JESUS MAFA. The Rich Fool, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48266 [retrieved July 28, 2022]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).

RCL Year C Proper 13, Alternate Readings
Ecclesiastes 1:2 and 12-14; and 2:18-23, Psalm 49:1-11, Colossians 3:1-11, Saint Luke 12:13-21

The Gospel today is the Parable of the Rich Fool. I cannot resist saying that God made him rich, God wants to make him richer, and he makes himself a fool. But let’s remember that the parable isn’t real life. It is a story that Jesus tells for a particular purpose: to “guard against all kinds of greed”[1] and encourage us to be “rich toward God.”[2]

The man is a fool, because he ignores the spiritual side of life, including his inevitable death. An abundant harvest he receives from God, and his answer about what to do and how to manage it is to build bigger barns and to relax, to eat, to drink, and to be merry. He misses the whole spiritual dimension, which is the true danger lurking alongside greed and abundance of possessions.

I assume that you are not ignoring the whole spiritual dimension. You would not be here this morning if you were ignoring it. You are here, as I am here, to hear the familiar parable once again and to put it and yourself into God’s hands with a question for God. How do I become richer toward God than I am?

The answer we provide to our question is the rest of our lives, everything that comes after this moment, after we commit ourselves once again to God in this Eucharist.

You may have thought of this already, and I preach to myself as I remind you of it, but the first thing we need to do to become richer toward God is to recognize that everything we have truthfully belongs to God. God has given us everything. God may have given us everything just to see what we will do with it. I mean land, crops, barns, automobiles, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and possessions of every kind. They all belong to God. You have heard this verse from the Scriptures: “All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee.”[3] I say nothing more than is contained in the verse. The most we can do is to be stewards of these possessions, to be the best stewards we can be. For truly moth and rust consume, and thieves do break in and steal.

The second thing each one of us needs to do to be richer toward God is to give more to God. We have already agreed, I believe, that everything we have truly belongs to God. We show God we believe that all belongs to him by giving him more. We also show God by giving him more that we depend more on him than on what he has given us. Life consists, after all, of our relationship with God. Life consists of hearing and obeying the Word of God.

Which brings me to the third and final thing that we all must do to be richer toward God. We need to read the Bible more. And when we read the Bible, we need to give what we read, what we learn, to God. Who we are and what we know, like everything else, belong to God. By consciously giving what we seem to possess to God, we declare to God that it is his. As I have said, God may give us something just to see what we will do with it.

The frame in which Jesus tells the Parable of the Rich Fool involves a man who wants a larger inheritance. He wants Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance between them. According to Deuteronomy 21:17, the firstborn receives a double portion, two-thirds rather than a single third. If the whole were divided equally, he would receive 16 and a fraction of a per cent more than he has received. Could that greedy desire be any farther than it is from rendering unto God the things that are God’s?


[1] Saint Luke 12:15.

[2] Saint Luke 12:21.

[3] I Chronicles 29:14.