Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”( Luke 12:13-21)
The rich man’s fault was not in planning ahead; he was perfectly right to provide for what we would call “the rainy day.” Where he went wrong was in thinking only of himself, of his personal comfort and well-being. He forgot the responsibility we all have to the community at large.
We cannot forget a basic premise of Christian thinking and living. When we go down to the deepest level of where everything comes from, it’s all a gift from God. Our whole universe is a gift from God. So, everything we have is a gift. All of this gift is not just for you or me or any one of us, it’s for all. It’s to be shared. (I guess in today’s political climate, that might even sound socialistic!)
The second lesson in today’s parable is what greed has done to this man. He doesn’t understand that he lives closed in on himself, prisoner of a logic that dehumanizes him, emptying him of all dignity. He only lives to accumulate, store and increase his material welfare:
He builds his barns bigger, but doesn’t know how to broaden the horizon of his life. He grows his wealth, but diminishes and impoverishes his life. He accumulates goods, but doesn’t know friendship, generous love, joy or solidarity. He doesn’t know how to give or share, only hoard. What of humanity is there in such a life?
He failed to build up a relationship with God to start with. Our whole relationship to God should be one of thanksgiving. We are receiving it every moment from God. We are being blessed at every instant because we wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for God. All that there is in this world is a gift from God and it’s intended for all and not for a few.
St. Paul in one of his letters says, “Be eucharists,” which is a Greek word meaning, be thanksgiving. So each of us, our whole being should be thanks — thanks for all that we have, all that we are, all that we can be. God has gifted you and me. When we get that sense and then we begin to understand that it’s the same for every person, we begin to build up a sense of yes, we have to share, we have to work for the common good, we have to try to bring about a fullness of life for every person.
What happens to a society that erects a “god” focused solely on the mighty dollar or the economy? What does it say about the primacy of the value of life when a dollar is prized more? If we try to store up riches only for myself, build more new barns, have it all for me, we destroy all our relationships with God. Isn’t maybe that the reason why we live in a world where there’s so much violence, hatred and war?
We can share what we have with others and look to God for our security. Let us do our work as God’s work, do it well for God’s honor, and do it in gratitude for God’s gifts to all of us. Ultimately, like the rich man in the story, one day, God will call each of us to His heavenly home and we will have to leave everything behind that we had achieved in this world.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, free my heart from all possessiveness and from coveting what belongs to another. May I desire you alone as the one true treasure worth possessing above all else. Help me to make good use of the material blessings you give.
To seek the Kingdom of God means more than just taking part in worship. It includes the service of others. demanded by membership of the Church. By giving of oneself we make treasure in heaven and become rich in the sight of God. The fault in the man who came to Jesus with the grievance against his brother, and likewise in the rich fool, was that they were thinking of nobody hut themselves, whereas the Kingdom of God is reached by sharing one another’s burdens. Whatever we give to others is not lost, but becomes treasure for eternity, drawing us forward into the Kingdom.