My parents are keen to remind me that I was not a sharer when I was growing up. I was very possessive of my things. One memory that is always shared was when my cousin Josh, who was just a few months younger than me, would come over to play, I would gather up all my toys in my arms and walk away. I would have so many toys that they would fall out as I walked. If my cousin got one I would scream, “No! Mine!” and rip it from his hands dropping all the other toys to retrieve that one missing object. Obviously, I have out grown that stage. But now I see similar behavior from my own children and finally understand my parent’s frustrations in teaching toddlers to share. It may seem amazing but adults sometimes need to be reminded of this need to share as well. We saw it in the pandemic with the fights breaking out over toilet paper in the stores. We are seeing it now as new parents fight one another over formula, some hoarding as many cans as they can while others go without. This has been a problem all throughout history. Humanity is a possessive people. We want to have even if it means that someone else will suffer. We are called to resist this desire to live our lives for possessions.
We are called to resist living our lives just for ourselves caring little for the plight of our neighbors. This is one of the most important teachings of Jesus Christ. We see him address this love for neighbor over and over again throughout all of his parables urging us to consider this law from different perspectives. Our gospel lesson for this morning, deals with this notion and it is in response to a younger brother demanding his inheritance from his older brother. Supposedly this younger brother is already wealthy and this would come at the expense of the older brother who sought only to keep the land and family together. Jesus is urging the younger man to remember that life isn’t just about what is mine and what is someone else’s. It is not just about what is owed them or us. It is about finding something more meaningful. This is why I have a great fondness for this short parable shared with us this morning because it still speaks to all those things that divide humanity and families: things, money, land, and ownership.
I imagine the younger man much as I was as a child wanting to gather all he owns in his arms screaming “No! Mine!” at his brother who seeks only to share with him. Today’s parable about the rich fool is about a man who seeks to gather all his abundance of grain into bigger and bigger barns as the peasant neighbors around him starve as this increases the market’s price of grain. What God reminds this man is that these are just physical possessions. We cannot take them with us when one day God calls us to him. Without the meaning we place upon those possessions, they fall to the ground as meaningless objects. God cares little for the wealth we accumulate in this life.
God wants only that we cling to him as we cling to our things. We may go through hard times. We may go through times when we question the presence of God in moments of want. This is where the words of Christian author Cherie Hill ring clear, “Every difficulty you face, in every waiting place, you’re being given the chance to trust in the things unseen and to be abundantly blessed”.1 It is only natural to want to store up for a rainy day, for a time of trouble that may or may not happen in the future. And there is nothing wrong with doing that to an extent. What Christ preached against is doing so at the expense of those around you, doing so even when it is harming those who are in need. He preached against placing more confidence in one’s own abilities and in the things that we have than placing trust and faith in the work of God.
Ultimately, God is the one who gives life and takes life. God is the one who blesses. We are called to worry less about the things, items, wealth of this world and to place our trust and our faith in the Lord who will lead us forward into the future that he has designed for us. Remember the words of Christ from this morning’s scriptures, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”.2 God wants us to care more for one another, for the suffering of those in need, for making connections, and for our connection to God than about the things of this world. This week, approach God in prayer, live into his call by caring for the needs of those around you, and when the natural worries about the things of this world creep in seek instead to connect more with God than to gain for the sake of storing up. Remember to focus your lives upon that which is truly important, God and caring for one another, loving one’s neighbors. If we can do that then we will have everything that is truly important in this life and we will discover a new depth to fulfillment in this life.
1 Cherie Hill, 21st century Christian author.
2 Luke 12:15, RSV.