Sunday 7th August 2022
Reflection Gospel of Luke 12: 13-21……
(Adapted from a reflection at Shelton Church 31 Aug 2022 on last weeks Gospel reading)
Jesus told many things to his disciples privately. On this particular day thousands gathered, trampling over each other to get closer to hear Him. Suddenly a man calls out ‘teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance’, (the elder brother would receive a greater amount.) Rabbis usually settled family disputes and Jesus wasn’t going to be drawn into it. Was this person really listening to the teacher or was he there to get what he wanted anyway he could?
So, Jesus said ‘Watch out, take care, be on your guard against all kinds of greed.’
Jesus was a great story teller and parables were a way of getting over ideas to those who would listen using the familiar things like farming, fishing and caring for people. Also, there were hidden truths that the Pharisees probably wouldn’t pick up on and in these stories there was nothing that his enemies could use against him. Those who truly listened would want to know more of his teachings.
The parable that Jesus uses ‘The rich fool’, encapsulates all that has gone on before. Pulling down barns to build bigger ones? Who would have done that? Who sowed the crops in the first place? We don’t know, it’s a story. Why would he store his goods in a barn? His greed was obvious – his grain was his and nobody else’s as were his possessions. He enjoyed his life and convinced himself that he was ok. But that is all he thought about, a life of luxury and ease. It was all soon to end.
His grain and possessions remained in the barns; he wasn’t going to give it away. God called him a fool – quite a strong word apparently. He was going to lose his life and for what! But we all have to make choices on how we live, what we have, how we use it, how we give care to others.
Years ago, I felt so guilty because I lived in a very lovely house which also had a swimming pool. One day I put this to a priest friend and his reply was ‘be thankful and grateful and enjoy the gifts you have been given’. I’d never seen it like that before. We can enjoy lovely and beautiful possessions and have admiration for those who have created them. It is our attitude to God and our fellow man that is important.
How do we feel about life today? We are constantly bombarded with a rather hedonistic way of life: TV adverts, social media, magazines etc. It’s all there in their advertising: one must have the newest and most expensive I-phone, the most up-to-date car, the bigger the better, whether it’s good for the environment or not. I remember when my children were young that they ‘had’ to have the latest sports gear etc. A particular brand or make. The pressures our children were put under then and now is still worrying.
Come Christmas time… advertising for toys etc., the bigger the better, the must haves. Grownups are thrown into the mix as well with the latest gadget. My mum always got gadgets for Christmas, whether she wanted them or not! The latest ‘game’ for the latest game consul at the time, so it goes on.
There is an advert on TV done by American, I think. It’s a bit tongue in cheek and it’s all about finding a great deal, and she says ‘I think I like it’. She is always dressed up to the nines, a bit like a duchess of the worst sense – but whatever the deal is she must have it. If it wasn’t so awful about desiring everything there was, including an Alpaca, it would be funny.
Our world is greedy. The powerful exploiting those who have little enough. Families on the breadline because their wages are insufficient to survive. We have power over creation; climate change is due to greed because we want what makes us comfortable. Of course, there are many people who do tremendously generous things, and of course they shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush as those who care not.
This parable of the rich fool is relevant today – who will listen?
We will all face our maker, creator God – and because of Jesus, His son, I’m sure He will look at us and say ‘Welcome home’. Amen.
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