Today’s Gospel comes from Luke 12:13-21. In this reading, Jesus uses the parable of the foolish rich man to teach of the temptation and false security in material possessions. As the parable reads,
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods…”
Note how many times the rich man uses the word “I” in this reading. The rich man is completely focused on himself alone. He gives no thought to how he could share his wealth or even takes the time to acknowledge this great gift from God. What about sharing his abundance to help others? The rich man is living only for himself and his worldly gain. What he has truly gained? Nothing. Although his barn may appear full, his heart is empty.
“…And I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God.”
The rich man blindly believes that he has secured his future by storing away his wealth. He has fallen prey to the seduction of wealth and the false promise it brings. While the rich man may think his future is set, you and I both know that life is full of surprises and uncertainty. The one thing we know for certain is that God will provide. Just as crops are dependent on water and sunlight, we are dependent on God. Having faith in God and trusting in His will are the only ways to find security in our lives – not in the worldly goods that the rich man falls prey to.
What is wealth? Rather than thinking of wealth as money and materials, what if wealth consisted of God-given gifts that add real value to our lives? Instead of storing materials in houses that can be torn down or replaced, what if we stored love, generosity, joy, peace, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy in our hearts and shared this with our brothers and sisters? This is the true treasure God seeks for us. We only need to see past the temptation and illusion of worldly possessions to find this truth.