Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21
The Russian Poet, Alexander Pushkin, once wrote a tragedy entitled “The Miserly Knight”
It is about a father and son who are so obsessed with money that their relationship is driven apart.
The son, Albert, if forced to borrow money and go into debt because his rich father, the Baron, will not give his son even an allowance.
The Baron is so greedy he wants more and more money, does not want to see his son have any of the money and will go to great lengths to assure his son will not inherit the money.
One day the Baron dies pleading for the keys to his chests full of money.
It is a poignant morality play.
The bible reading above is somewhat similar. In response to a young man wanting his share of the family’s inheritance, Jesus tells a parable that has come to be known as “The Rich Fool”.
In the parable, the Rich Fool uses the word “I” six times and the word “my” five times. It seems that his wealth had turned him in on himself and he has no real relationships.
In the parable, the Rich Fool dies.
The story would end with a moral: “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Are we rich toward God? Often not. What do we do?
We look to another death story. Jesus died on the cross for our sin of greed.
But we also die a death, so to speak. We die to ourselves in baptism. We do so daily. Martin Luther would say it this way: “Each day the old person drowns in the waters of baptism and a new person comes forth.”
Each day we admit our greed, and through our baptism, God brings a new person forth.
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California