The Rich Fool, by Katie Snipes Lancaster
Then he told them a parable: “A certain rich man’s land produced a bountiful crop. He said to himself, what will I do? I have no place to store my harvest! Then he thought, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. That’s where I’ll store all my grain and goods. I’ll say to myself, you have stored up plenty of goods, enough for several years. Take it easy! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself. But God said to him, ‘Fool, tonight you will die. Now who will get the things you have prepared for yourself?’ This is the way it will be for those who hoard things for themselves and aren’t rich toward God.” Luke 12:16–21
Reflection: A man comes to Jesus asking for advice on some family drama: how to divide the family inheritance. Even from two thousand years distance, we can tell that Jesus doesn’t want to touch that squabble with a ten foot pole. Back away when someone wants you to take sides with them in a heated family feud like this, Jesus seems to imply by his actions. No one will win.
Instead Jesus tells him a parable.
This parable is about money, possessions, and the decisions we make. Not only that, but it is also about our relationship to possessions as it relates to our mortality. Jesus doesn’t quite say, “you can’t take it with you,” but he almost does.
New Testament scholar John Carroll says, “if the human impulse to find security through acquiring and possessing things springs at bottom, from anxiety and fear, then teaching about wealth and security must also speak to these aspects of the human condition.” Go ahead peek ahead. Right after this parable, Jesus moves into a monologue about money and possessions, no surprise. We hear “do not have anxious concern for your life; what to eat or what clothes to put on your body.” Jesus then escalates his message saying “sell your possessions and give alms.” He assures us “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Are we comforted? Maybe not. But Lent is a season that starts with a reminder about our mortality and placing that at the forefront can certainly reframe what matters most to us.
Align our vision with yours, O God. Amen.