Today's gospel reading confronts us with a reality that some of
us do not like to be reminded of. The reality of death. All of us
know that we are going to die. But we don't know just when our death
will occur. Some of us are very uncomfortable when thinking about
death. We don't like to face the unknown, and there is much about
death that is unknown.
Today Jesus gives us a powerful lesson in the parable of the rich
man. This man is a farmer, and it seems that he has a very large
and prosperous farm. His farm has just produced a bumper crop of
grain. The crop is so large that he has to build more and larger
barns in which to store his grain. Now that the harvest is over,
the farmer plans to rest and enjoy life. Jesus quotes him as telling
himself that he now is in good shape for many years and can take
life easy. He plans to "rest, eat, drink, be merry." In
other words he plans to live a life of leisure. This rich man is
very worldly and his goal is to now live a life of comfort, ease
and pleasure. His wealth makes him selfish. He plans only for himself
and his comfort. He does not think of others and makes no provision
for his wealth and his farm when he is no longer there to oversee
And now Jesus gives us the punch line of this parable. He delivers
it suddenly and sharply. Just as the rich man has completed his
plans for the future, God says to him, "You fool, this night
your life will be demanded of you." God's words are sudden
and sharp, and there is no hiding from them. Death is inevitable.
There is no way that the rich man can bargain for more time. And
there is no time to redo his past life. This man is going to have
to give to God an accounting for his earthly life this very night.
Then God asks another question of the rich man. "and the things
you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" Again, the rich
man has no answer. He has made no provision for his wealth and his
goods once he is dead.
As we read this gospel we might think that this rich man did not
get an even break. We might argue that he needed more time to put
his affairs in order and to prepare himself for judgment. But Jesus
answers this objection also. In the last line of this reading he
tells that this is what happens when a person selfishly stores up
wealth only for himself and is not willing to share or help those
less fortunate than himself. Such a person is not rich in what matters
to God. And I think that that is the point of this parable.
We all are called to know and love and follow Jesus. We are called
to read about his life here on earth. We are called to listen to
his teaching and to obey his commands. By doing this we become rich
in what matters to God. But we must do this continually during our
lives here on earth. We can't put off following Jesus until some
future date because we don't know how much longer our life might
last. We have time now to begin to grow rich in what matters to
God. We might not have time later on. As we look around us in today's
world, we can see people who are like the rich man of the parable.
They accumulate great wealth in order to live a worldly life of
ease and comfort and pleasure. They are selfish and think only of
themselves and their own happiness. They give no indication of being
concerned about life after death. Unless they change their ways,
they risk the same fate that befell the rich man of today's parable.
Today I pray that the parable in this gospel reading may help all
of us who read it to learn the lesson it teaches. May we all become
rich in what matters to God.