WelCom August 2019:
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 12: 13-21
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me’. He replied to him, ‘Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?’ Then he said to the crowd, ‘Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions’. Then he told them a parable. ‘There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, “What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?” And he said, “This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, ‘Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!’”
‘But God said to him, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.’
Greed and Stewardship
A reflection on Luke 12: 13-21
There is a lesson for us in today’s gospel. While teaching, Jesus is interrupted by a person desperate for Him to arbitrate between his brother and himself. It is unlikely this man’s issue is about the value of the inheritance, but instead how it was to be shared between him and his brother. This man’s love of money supersedes his love for his brother, and he is seeking Jesus’ moral authority to gain power over his brother in their inheritance dispute. Jesus replies ‘Who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’ (Lk 12:14). He then uses the opportunity to tell a parable of a rich man planning to add to his many possessions (Lk 12:16).
How do we manage the tangible worldly gifts we have been given in life? Do we stop to think from where every gift we have has come? Our parents, whānau, birthplace, education, health, wealth, social wellbeing, are not of our design or doing, all are gifts from God. Regardless of our circumstances, whether health, wealth, age or social wellbeing; all these gifts come from God. Yet everywhere we look, we see people worse off than ourselves. Is this disparity because some belong to the 20 per cent of New Zealanders who own 80 per cent of the country’s wealth? Are we content to see the gap between this 20 per cent and the other 80 per cent widening?
Daily, we are visited by appeals from one charity or another. Even the streets we walk regularly have appeals. So we know there is a problem. New Zealand has comparatively fair tax laws that require tax to be paid on most things we buy. But with a good accountant and a smart business strategy, we can get most of it back. We may want to believe we live in a welfare state controlled by a government that looks after the poor; but this is still not sufficient to help the many charities balance their books, while the banks look after the rich who disguise their quest for wealth in the interests of efficiency.
If we truly believe all of this comes from God, is it all ours to consume anyway? As Jesus warns today (Lk 12:21), if we don’t give it away, we could lose it all. There is a saying: ‘there was a man and they called him mad, but the more he gave the more he had.’ Jesus calls on each of us to be more generous ‒ ‘even just the small things might be a big start.’ Let’s not disappoint Him.
Tom Gibson is a parishioner at the Immaculate Conception Parish, Stratford, and a retired dairy farmer.