August 4, 2019: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Luke 12:13-21
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 all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
Jesus has no intention of siding with the man in his inheritance dispute. Instead, he uses the opportunity to get to the heart of the larger issue – greed – and the many guises it hides under. In his parable, Jesus calls the man a fool, not for being wealthy but for being preoccupied with his own self-interest. There is no mention of God’s grace in his abundance or what might be required of him by God. There is no gratitude expressed to the workers who cultivated and harvested his crops nor does he appear to have any plans to share his abundance with anyone. Wealth and possessions can make us blind to our need of God and the needs of others. The lure of materialism in our own American culture often blurs the line between our actual needs and our many wants. Too often we give out of our excess rather than the kind of generosity that costs us. How often do we deny ourselves so more can be given to others?
Make a list of what you consider your top three to five material needs. Take some time to ponder these needs and why you need them – pray about them. Then reexamine your list. Can any of these needs be reclassified as wants? If so, what will that mean for the real needs of others?