What Matters?

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.
“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
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.”
(Luke 12:13-21)   

Scripture Study

12:13 the inheritance: Jesus is asked to arbitrate a fraternal dispute over an inheritance. Seeing that family wealth is causing family divisions, he responds with a parable on the danger of riches (12:16–21).

12:19 eat, drink, be merry: i.e., indulge in earthly pleasures and comforts (Tob 7:9; Eccles 8:15; Is 22:13). The foolish man hoards his resources, makes them the basis for his security, and then adds laziness to his greed. Death will expose his folly by stripping him of all that he owns (6:24; 16:13; 18:25).

12:20 Fool!: A harsh rebuke for someone unconcerned with God or his Law (Ps 14:1; Prov 1:7).[1]

 

Reflection

“Then he said to the crowd, ‘Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.’

After his statement in v. 15, Jesus tells the parable of the foolish rich man: what folly it is to put our trust in amassing material goods to ensure we have a comfortable life on earth, forgetting the goods of the spirit, which are what really ensure us—through God’s mercy—of eternal life.

This is how St Athanasius explained these words of our Lord: “A person who lives as if he were to die every day—given that our life is uncertain by definition—will not sin, for good fear extinguishes most of the disorder of our appetites; whereas he who thinks he has a long life ahead of him will easily let himself be dominated by pleasures” (Adversus Antigonum).

This man’s stupidity consisted in making material possession his only aim in life and his only insurance policy. It is lawful for a person to want to own what he needs for living, but if possession of material resources becomes an absolute, it spells the ultimate destruction of the individual and of society.[2]

 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 132.
[2] Saint Luke’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 123.