Updated: Oct 4, 2022
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
From Sunday’s Gospel of Luke 12:13-21
How much is enough? In today’s Gospel Jesus gives the above advice to the man who asked him to arbitrate his and his brother’s inheritance. Jesus then shares the parable of the rich man who, when having a bumper crop, decides to build larger barns so he can “rest, eat, drink, be merry.” However, this man’s life will be taken from him before he can enjoy his anticipated life of leisure. The last verse of the parable says: “Thus it will be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
The first reading from Ecclesiastes speaks of the vanity of our laboring and anxieties when, in chapter two verse twenty-one, we hear: “Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property.” In other words, those who take some much effort and care to amass wealth cannot take it past the grave, and others who have not toiled will be the benefactors. Both the First Reading from Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23 and the Gospel remind us that wealth is fleeting. Life calls us to have a balance between the material and spiritual worlds. We are to avoid greed and the blind accumulation of wealth.
In light of today’s readings, have you found too much security in retirement balances and material wealth? What does it mean to be “rich in what matters to God?” Instead of choosing to store up his surplus, the rich man in the Gospel could have given his excess grain to the poor, storing up treasure in heaven. May we strike the right balance with being doing what we need to provide for ourselves and our families while being generous in sharing what we have with those in need. After all, you can’t take it with you!