THE PARABLE OF THE FOOLISH RICH MAN
(A biblical reflection on the 18th ORDINARY SUNDAY [Year C] – July 31, 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:13-21
First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Psalms: Psalm 90:3-6,12-14,17; Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-5.9-11
One of the multitude said to Him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” And He said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21 RSV)
Basically, Jesus says, “Avoid greed in all its forms. A man may be wealthy, but his passions do not guarantee him life” (see Luke 12:15).
A generous soul, God-centered and responding to the gift of faith, would see the emptiness of the material gain for which our pride thirsts – and thirsts in vain. Even an intelligent pagan without the gift of faith would see the emptiness of mereka material wealth. He would learn from experience how paltry and frustrating is the “happiness” of worshipping golden images, seeking satisfaction in material goods.
Clinging to matter has warped our imaginations, and we have convinced ourselves that God is far away, that God is hardly real. The distant, unattainable material goals seem deceivingly near. “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry” (Luke 12:19).
Thus greed conquers us. God is really near, but our burdened imaginations hardly see Him from afar. Wealth and comfort become our reality and seem always within reach. “One more gain”, we tell ourselves, “and I’ve got all I want.”
If I am “lucky” enough to get it, the fire of greed is fanned all the more. “One more gain …” but there is no end. Each new success becomes more bitter than the last, until finally we are insane with greed. Yes, greed begets greed!!!
While we continue to invite punishment and destruction upon ourselves for our ingratitude and greed, God’s mercy continues; His infinite patience pursues us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may Your mercy at last conquer our ingratitude, even if it requires some hard-learned lessons. We remember, dear Lord, that the starvation of the prodigal son was not exactly an easy experience, but it did bring him back to his Father’s house. Amen.
Jakarta, 28 July 2016
A Christian Pilgrim