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Pastor's Column

The Man Who Thought Only of Himself

Pastor’s Column

18th Sunday Ordinary Time

July 31, 2022

James Tissot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’

Luke 12:13-21

What’s wrong with this picture? A man has been a successful farmer and is ready to retire, with more wealth than he could possibly ever use. He didn’t come by it by cheating others. In fact, he has acquired so much that he needs to build more barns to store it all. Why does God call this man a fool?

Jesus is not condemning the fact that this man had a good harvest or that he needed bigger barns to put it all in – rather, having had a huge crop, the man thought only of himself. Notice how the “rich fool” uses the word “I” constantly as if he were the only person in the world that mattered. He is self-centered. He is also wrong, because his stored-up wealth is going to be fought over by relatives like these two brothers, and they’ll probably hate each other over all that grain.

All these things the man labored for, everything he worked for, suddenly, he has to leave in a moment, and this is the one thing he was not prepared for, the one thing he didn’t plan for in his world and financial picture. That it could all be taken away from him so suddenly and forever was not foreseen. His investments did not include others—only himself. This man has spent all his time enlarging his own barns instead of enlarging his soul. He spent his whole life in the pursuit of worldly material things and completely neglected the spiritual life.

This man had shut himself out from everyone else. There’s no one else in his story – just this man and his possessions – until God speaks to him and lowers the boom. No sooner has he envisioned his future then God speaks and declares what the future actually holds for him, and the reversal is sudden and dramatic. And God uses a word when he speaks to him – “you fool!”

What is this man not doing? He is not thanking God for his gifts or thinking of others. In fact, God and others are not on this man’s mind at all. What does he think he’s on earth for? Only to serve himself? Each of us is on earth for a reason, and it isn’t our comfort zone. Rather, the question to ask each day is, “Have I glorified God today?” How have I helped someone else? What will God wish me to have done with the precious gift of my life and possessions when I see him face to face? For all we have here is only on loan to us. How we use our temporary possessions we have will determine what we will possess forever.

Father Gary


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