Text: Luke 12: 13- 21
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Let me begin this with a contemporary parable that has given me a lot of perspective. A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.
Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.
Keeping this parable in perspective let us look at our Biblical passage set in front of us. Jesus is asked to be an arbiter of a case where we have two brothers warring over an inheritance. In response to this request Jesus narrates the Parable of the Rich Fool. What exactly was wrong with this man? Was he a sinner? Did he abuse his wife? Did he cheat? I guess the answer is not that easy. It looks like he was a man who had a lot of things going well for him. He was focused on the harvest that had brought bonus to his life. He was a man who was building his riches on possessions. He was celebrating on the riches that he had. His future was secure. Life was a song. But then when everything is right God calls him a fool. Fool? Why? He was the man that the world would love to know. He would be the first one to be called to our parties. He would be one of those who we would request to inaugurate our establishments. He would be a very important person in our Church and Committee.
Many of us are very particular about our lifestyles. Many I know are very focused about their careers. The cars and phones we have, display our success. The locality in which we live is a testimony of the influence that we have. The home we have is the trophy of our dedication in pursuit of security and prestige. The Wedding receptions we hold shout out the clout we have. To get here we work 16 hours. Get into overtime. Get into loans after loans. We try to fit in. In this chase we have no time for God, for family and friends. In the name of doing it for family, one gets even more far from family. Husband has no time for wife and vice versa. Both have no time for children. No time for people around. Life is just a mad race to get somewhere. If one can identify with any of the above, God is saying to you“You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Now, that sounds rude! We are very used to seeing Jesus comforting us. But the truth is, He confronted many a people. Now He is confronting you. He is asking you some very disturbing questions. Talmud the interpretation of the Torah(First 5 Books of the Bible) says “One should repent the previous day one is going to die.” Then the question is how one knows when we are going to die. The answer in it is “Live like today is your last day.” This is a parable that asks us to reset our priorities. Are we rich towards God? Are we investing in relation and people that have eternal value? Where do we stand?
I will end with a story. Once there was a clergy. He had a visitor from the United States. They were meeting for the first time. The man and his wife gifted the Clergy a gold coin. The Clergy refused. He said “I cannot accept this.” The woman said “Achen you have to.” Then she narrated a story. “When your mother Simoni was teacher in Anjal (a small village in Kerala) we lived in your neighbourhood. Your mother was a very prayerful woman. She was available for everyone. I had finished by matriculation (10th grade) and wished to go for nursing. My family was very poor and had no source to help me accomplish my dream. But my parents approached your mother who was fondly called as Simoni Teacher. When my father expressed our predicament, this lady of 7 children did not think twice. She removed her gold locket and gave it to my father. It is because of that great gesture I could study further and become a nurse. That is how I got a Job in the U.S. Today I have come back to return that Gold Locket with gratitude to God and your mother..” This Simoni teacher died in Anjal itself in 1961. But her deed lived on. She invested in people. She was rich toward God and her richness was the relationships that are eternal. Her witness was this Nurse who could live her dream because this Simoni teacher was ready to sacrifice her riches. My dear friends it is time to review our attitude towards God. It is time to examine our spirituality. Are we investing in people? Is our money, our possessions instrumental in realizing the dreams of students who do not have the means to do so? Are we people with a social conscience? May God help us to set our priorities. May we hear God saying “Good and faithful Servant…..”
P.S. Simoni teacher is my paternal Grand Mother. (My father lost his mother when he was 8 yrs old and the youngest of the siblings was 1 and a half years). The Clergy in the story is my uncle Rev Dr George Mathew, Kuttiyil, who has dedicated a Scholarship in the Mar Thoma Seminary in the name of Simoni Mathew to make her investment an eternal one.
Rev Merin Mathew
Mar Thoma Syrian Church