Daily Reflection
October 22nd, 2007

Tom Bannantine, S.J.

School of Nursing
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

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 it.

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.

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