Today’s Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
This parable always caused me to pause. I am big on security, having grown up in an immigrant family which had no safety nets for rainy days. I worked hard, not for success, but for stability and the peace of mind that I would not have to rely on debts as my father did. My in-laws, in contrast, had planned for their retirement throughout their lives and saved up for their annual trips, small treats and long-term care.
Is this parable a rebuke of such planning or the desire to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor? I say not. Jesus’s displeasure is directed at “greed”: an over-attachment to possessions that rendered the rich man “foolish.” “Foolish” describes those who pursue the wrong priorities or invest their lives for unworthy ends. Foolish people dismiss the sovereignty of God and have no regard for the ways of God. The rich man never thanked God for his bounty, gave no thought to how he could give back; and sought no other ways to employ his life other than to “rest, eat, drink, and be merry.” He assumed possessions would give him control over the rest of his life. Possessions were all that he needed. God was superfluous, irrelevant.
For those of us who draw comfort that we would not be so dismissive, we still face the challenge of determining what is enough, what is God’s, what is ours, what is responsible saving and what is hoarding. The fate of the rich man is ultimately our fate; foolish or not, we will all return to God on God’s time. The degree of our foolishness will depend on whether we have worked as diligently for our eternal life as compared to our earthly one.
Which do I worry about more, my financial situation or my prayer life?
Lord, teach me to value the goods of this earth in light of eternity.
Copyright 2017 Carolyn Woo
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