August 4, 2019 at Saint Peter and Saint William Parishes in Naples, FL
Ecclesiastes 1,2 & 2, 21-23 + Psalm 90 + Colossians 3, 1-5 & 9-11 + Luke 12, 13-21
The situation that prompts the parable today is not really unusual. In those days and in that culture, a wise Rabbi was often sought out to settle disputes. There were no attorneys or civil courts. Someone known to be wise and impartial would often be asked to help as the man does who comes up to Jesus. Obviously, there is a dispute between brothers, and that disturbs Jesus. While the story he tells could be interpreted as a lesson on greed, there is more to it than that. The situation of the man in the parable really comes as a warning to the brothers who are fighting. The message is simple. If you get a lot stuff you will probably end up alone and unhappy because the greatest wealth is not possessions, but in the love of family and friends.
That poor man in the parable has no one to talk to. Did you notice that he is always talking to himself? Moreover, there is apparently no one to inherit it all. He is completely alone, cut off from everyone, occupied with only one thing, how to hang on to it all and how to get more. Now, in biblical times, famine was always a threat, so people did seek security by stockpiling grain. Jesus understood the need for security. Yet he calls this farmer a “fool” because in his search for security he forgot everything else, he forgot God, he forgot friends, and his obligations to the poor. Again, the message is simple: possessions do not provide security, fires come, thieves come, the stock market takes a dive, interest rates fall. It’s all the same in every age. If everything is ever taken from us, there will be one thing left that no one can take: God. Even if everyone abandons us, there will be God.
Under all of this is the need to learn the difference between needs and wants. Food is a need. Without it, we die. A 68” television is a want. Having it contributes to our enjoyment, but we can live without it. Our wants are many. Our needs are few. What God wants is for us to live, but life can be waisted in the pursuit of material things leaving any of us to die without realizing our spiritual greatness. What Jesus asks of us today is that we make ourselves rich in the sight of God, and what does make us rich in God’s sight is not what we own but what we are. We measure what we are by looking closely at our heart. We are what the heart is. A noble, generous, upright heart makes us rich in the sight of God.
Realizing that kind of wealth will keep us from ever being alone and without friends. It will ensure our capacity for joy, and best of all, we will have discovered something about the purpose of life itself. You stop now and then to wonder what your life is all about, pay attention to what you are doing with it and why. Then, no one will ever call you a fool. Don’t you wonder if those brothers ever stopped their quarreling over the inheritance? I hope so.