Jesus was teaching his disciples when he was somewhat rudely interrupted by someone who wanted him to resolve a family dispute over inheritance. This man was not really asking for advice – he just wanted to try to get Jesus on his side: “tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me”.
We might hear a faint echo of another two brothers disputing over half an inheritance – the two brothers in the parable of the prodigal son. . .
Anyway – this man wanted Jesus to get the money for him. But Jesus was quick to see the real problem in this man’s heart: was greed! – the intense and selfish desire for something: especially wealth, power, or social status.
Jesus uses the opportunity to warn his disciples and the rest of the crowd listening – about the danger of greed and placing one’s confidence in earthly possessions – which is still relevant for us today because so many people’s main priority in life is to become wealthy which they think will bring them a good and happy life.
So let’s look at the parable or story.
I’m sure many of us can identify with the land owner: he is a happy man – a rich man, and he had a good harvest – what farmer would not rejoice in that?
This is the essence of life for many people today – to be successful and to be rich – which this man enjoyed – and there is nothing wrong with any of us enjoying it also.
The man is in a good place – and he is looking forward to more of the same – “and I will say to myself, you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy. Eat, drink, and be merry.”
And the man’s next move? He wants to build bigger barns — not because he doesn’t have any barns – but he wants bigger ones to store the wealth of his crops. So he will tear down the old and build newer, bigger, barns.
Everything was fine and good. In fact - it describes the typical lifestyle of many Americans. We want to improve our lives, increase our wealth, and find more ways to enjoy ourselves. We want to store up our wealth and possessions so that we can enjoy them in the days to come. We are always planning for the future – making good investments in stocks, life insurance, trusts, commodities, and properties.
Again, everything was fine and good – UNTIL GOD ENTERS THE PICTURE. When God enters –everything changes. Because God said to him, “you fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.”
All the man cared about was BIGGER BARNS. –But God brought a new perspective. The man isn’t going to live to see his bigger barns – he doesn’t even have a chance to get the project started. He was planning ONLY for this life on earth – not what comes after. God was not in his life. He did not even consider God — or others – in his decision to build bigger barns –
God said to him: “You fool, this very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself” This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for themselves – but is not rich toward God. . .”
Jesus wants us to see things in the right perspective. He told the man who interrupted him: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
Did the man really need bigger barns – or did he just want them??? He could have given the excess to those in need — but much like Lazarus who sat at the door of another rich man and was ignored day after day –
This man probably wasn’t aware of the fact that people around him had needs that weren’t being met – the ones who had no food on their tables – perhaps didn’t even have tables — the ones who were lacking their daily bread.
JESUS DOESN’T WANT US TO BUILD BIGGER BARNS OR TO RENT A BIGGER STORAGE UNIT TO STORE ALL OF OUR STUFF – JESUS WANTS US TO BUILD BIGGER HEARTS – one’s that are big enough to realize that we pray “Our Father” because God is father of us all – which makes all of us brothers and sisters – who should care for one another.
God wants us to expand our hearts – so that when we pray “give us this day our daily bread” we know we are praying for more than just enough to eat – but praying for roofs over our heads, decent wages, affordable health care, clean water, and safe places to live for ourselves – AND for our brothers and sisters.
Jesus wants us to build bigger hearts – convert or change ourselves so that we think more like God thinks - so that love and forgiveness will take over the earth – and the world will be a better place.
God wants us to build bigger hearts – not so that we store up treasure for ourselves – but so that we can grow rich in what matters to God.
IT IS perfectly fine to have possessions – to have money in the bank – to adequately prepare for our futures –and to be content and happy.
But we have to keep things in perspective.
If we view our possessions or successes in life as the result of our talent and effort – we will think of ourselves as owners of these things.
But in reality, we are all stewards of what God has provided. Whether we are into farming or into manufacturing, or business — it is God who provides
God gives us the ability to do whatever we are doing.
God gives us the ability to think, to calculate numbers, to build, and to make plans — the ability to speak and to breathe.
All of us earn our wealth with borrowed abilities.
And we are called to be grateful – which expands our hearts – which allows us to be generous with the gifts God has given us.
Open our eyes, God our Father, to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who labor and are burdened – who have less than we do.
Make us serve them truly after the example of Christ and at his command.
And may your Church, your body made up of all of us here – always stand as a living witness to truth and freedom. To peace and justice. That ALL people may be raised up to a new hope.
Lord, give us bigger hearts – hearts filled with gratitude and generosity —- so that that world can be a better place. AMEN!
Moments in time...