You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you.
Jesus’ parable in today’s liturgy puts me face-to-face with a key issue for my faith life: What is my relationship with the gifts that God has given to me? Or, another way of putting it, what are my riches, my wealth and how am I invited by God to relate to them? In the gospel story the rich man built bigger and better barns to store away the spectacular harvest and then he told himself, “Relax! Eat heartily, drink well. Enjoy yourself.”
What we have in Jesus’ story is how NOT to relate to my gifts and blessings. The point of the parable gets expressed in the last line, the folly of growing rich for myself instead of growing rich in the sight of God.
So there it is! “Growing rich in the sight of God.” How is it that I might grow rich that way? It seems to revolve around what I do with my wealth, my riches, my gifts, my “harvest” (to keep with the imagery in the parable). The way the rich man reacted is the opposite of how to properly relate to the harvest – he took it all to himself and thought only of himself.
I love the way the story goes, how the harvest-rich man enters into dialogue with himself “What shall I do” he asks himself . . . then I will say to myself . . .”). It’s not even one of those self-conversations where our unselfish side and our selfish side argue with each other; this is just his selfish side in a kind of high tide. And, of course, that means that it is not a dialogue at all, but a monologue.
The real dialogue in Jesus’ parable is the word of God that conflicts with the interior machinations of the rich man’s mind. Unfortunately for the rich man he doesn’t hear that part of the dialogue at all because he’s stuck in his own, unprofitable monologue.
Lord God, spare me from the spinning wheels of my own self-deceptive ways, from the selfish monologues that I know so well. Open me to your spirit of challenge and of comfort. Let my satisfaction be in my gratitude for the gifts you shower upon me and in the harvest that you accomplish through them.
By Tom Shannahan