August 5, 2001

Luke 12:13-21

Someone out of the crowd said, "Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance."

He replied, "Mister, what makes you think it's any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?"

Speaking to the people, he went on, "Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot."

Then he told them this story: "The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: 'What can I do? My barn isn't big enough for this harvest.' Then he said, 'Here's what I'll do: I'll tear down my barns and build bugger ones. Then I'll gather in all my grain and goods, and I'll say to myself, "Self, you've done well! You've got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!"'

"Just then God showed up and said, 'Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods--who gets it?'

"That's what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God."

<The Message >


1. An awareness of our "self-talk" is important to keep us on an even keel. What story are we telling our self? With the U.S. holding out on the current wisdom about global warming and some tentative Kyoto protocols to deal with that, what must the U.S. be telling itself about how well it is doing? about how business comes before creation? about gathering in all the resources and goods one can in the short-term?

If we listen in on our self-talk we will find out more about ourselves than we want to know, but it may also be an opportunity for finally catching on to our self-delusions and lead to repentance or conversion and all that means.

2. We are foolish when we euphemize death. We talk around it with talk about "passing on" and the like. It is this sort of straight talk -- "Tonight you die" -- that I like about many spiritual teaching stories. How do we pass on this information without watering it down or giving folks an out?

One picture I have here is that Jesus is responding to one person's lived reality, but it is deep within the hearts of most of us. So, Jesus turns to the questioner's neighbor and repeats the line, "Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods--who gets it?" And repeats it again to the neighbor's neighbor. This goes on until Jesus looks me in the face asks that nasty question. It is a question for us to address on as daily a basis as praying for bread.

We find ourselves living between full barns and daily bread. Let us help one another live better in-between so no one has too much and no one has too little.

3. I think it important that we not end this reading with verse 21 but go on to the beginning of the next verse. The Message puts it this way at the beginning of verse 22: "[Jesus] continued this subject with his disciples." We need to continue this subject with our parishioners. Economic issues are spiritual issues.

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