Jesus has taught us the two great commandments; the first is to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. The second is to love our neighbour as ourselves. Today Jesus tells the two brothers who are in dispute of the family inheritance. “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Jesus reminds them that life is not about owning, or possessing things abundantly. We are to love God wholeheartedly and not to worship possessions as idols.
To emphasize his point, Jesus tells these two brothers the parable of a rich man whom he also calls as a fool, the “rich fool”. This rich man had the blessings of abundant harvests. The produce is so abundant that he does not have enough space to store them. With this abundance, what does this rich man do? The scripture tells his only concerns are “I” and “my.” In his whole thought process, it is only he himself that is in the centre. It shows he only loves himself.
Is desiring for more of something than is needed really bad? We all want to have a little leftover money to cushion ourselves in times of need, Isn’t that why we contribute to super fund, for retirement?
I don’t think it is when one prepares for rainy days, or stores up one’s abundance that causes Jesus to call us fools, or does he condemn wealth.
It is the selfish and excessive desire for oneself that becomes greed. It is the way we treat our abundance and our wealth that matters to God.
Jesus further says, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Who are those who are not rich toward God?
Often times, when we mention rich, we think of money, wealth. In the Bible, there are at least fifty times that money, wealth, possession or finances have been mentioned. They are mostly based on the basic commandments that “Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.”
When we love God, we are rich toward God. When we love our neighbour, we are rich toward God. It is because we show gratitude to God of the blessings bestowed to us.
This rich man forgets about God, the one who gives him all the blessings he has. God gives him the talents to grow the crop and receives the produce abundantly. Whatever God gives will eventually be returned to God. He can’t take all the possessions with him, neither can we.
Isn’t this rich man a fool by hoarding all the produce and thinks he can enjoy it into eternity? He does not know his last day on earth is coming soon. And neither do we.
This man’s rich in produce can be rich toward God by showing God his gratitude. He can show God his gratitude by sharing his abundance with his neighbours who may not have such blessings but are struggling in their lives. He forgets he should love God with his whole heart, whole mind, whole spirit, and whole strength. He forgets he should love his neighbours as himself.
Certainly, if the rich man had been a person of generosity, a person who showed concern for the welfare of others, he would have acted differently. Instead of building barns, he would have helped the less fortunate build up their lives by sharing his harvest with them. In the process he would have stored up treasure in heaven.
The same holds true for us. If our plan is to be generous when we have more than enough for ourselves or when we hit it big in our career or in the Mega-Millions, the chances are that will not happen. Unless we are generous and giving when we have little, we will not be generous and giving when we have more.
Generosity and concern for the needs of others do not come about when our assets reach a certain level. They come about when we realize that all we have is a gift from God. A gift lent to us only for a time so that we might use it for good. Those who realize that fact and act accordingly are those who hit it big in “what matters to God.”
The following list has been around in the cyberspace and is something that captures what Jesus said in the Gospel. I would like to share part of it in conclusion.
Things God won’t ask on that day:
1. God won’t ask what kind of car you drove. God will ask how many people you gave a lift to who didn’t have any transportation.
2. God won’t ask the square footage of your house. But God will ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
3. God won’t ask about the clothes you had. God will ask how many you helped to clothe.
4. God won’t ask what your highest salary was. But God will ask if you compromised your integrity to obtain it.
5. God won’t ask what your job title was. God will ask whether you performed your job to the best of your ability.
6. God won’t ask how many friends you had. God will ask how many people to whom you made sure you were a friend.
7. God won’t ask in what neighbourhood you lived. But God will ask how you treated and behaved with your neighbours.