Luke 12: 13-21
A man in a crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died.”
Jesus answered, “Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and your brother?”
Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”
So Jesus told them this story: A rich man’s farm produced a big crop, and he said to himself, “What can I do? I don’t have a place large enough to store everything.”
Later, he said, “Now I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’”
But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?”
“This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God.”
It is good to remember that Jesus’ contemporaries lived lives of immense hardship, under very harsh social and political conditions. Famine or land appropriation were a constant threat for subsistence farmers, suffering under excruciating taxation practices.
In this situation, the landowner who stored his surplus crop, instead of helping to feed and support poorer farmers, would not have won the sympathy of Jesus’ listeners. They will have enjoyed this simple reminder that even unscrupulous people like this landowner will die, and his grand plans will look very foolish.
The parable is told as a warning against greed, but Luke is offering a deeper theological meaning. What are the ways in which I am ‘rich toward God’?