by Deacon Thomas G. Davis WHILE TALKING TO a friend of mine, he told me about an elderly widow named Ann who attended church weekly. She had gone to speak with my friend about preparing her will. She was very clear that she wanted an equal share to go to each of her siblings. He asked her to prepare a list of all her bank accounts that she had, and how much was in each account. A few days later, Ann called him and said that her sister’s son was an attorney and that he would be preparing her will. Unfair Exchange After the woman died, it was found out that the attorney’s mother had gotten Ann, to sign documents that gave her sister most of the money in the estate. Ann’s other brothers and sisters got very little, if anything. Ann’s story is the exact opposite to the rich landowner in today’s Gospel from Luke. Surrounded by crowds, a man poses this request to Jesus: “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” The Teacher uses the opportunity to show all those present – and all of us listening now – something that we should know, and that is stated in a very famous phrase: “You can’t take it with you.” Jesus presents a parable with a man who had become rich as a farmer. He probably had taken good care of his land, and as a result, over the years his harvest grew to the point he decided he had to build larger barns to hold the harvest. So far so good. He was already rich and this harvest would make him so rich that he could “rest, eat, drink, be merry,” or as we might say today, “to retire without a care in the world.” Jesus calls this rich man a “fool” because of the way he is acting. He refuses to admit, or is afraid to admit that someday he will die. Making Provisions Today’s Gospel is asking the question: What world are we talking about? If we are talking about the physical world we live in, then we would have to realize that we will not live forever. Then where would all our money and wealth go after we die? Would we make provisions for those we love? Would we give anything to the poor? Remember, you can’t take it with you. This is something that our farmer never took into consideration. He was so greedy that sharing any of his wealth even with his brother was out of the question. However, if we are talking about the spiritual world, what provisions did our landowner make in his life that would prepare him to stand before God when his time comes? What has this man done to provide for the poor and the hungry during his lifetime? What has he done in his relationship with God? Nothing! Let’s recall the elderly widow Ann we first discussed. She went to church every week. She loved her neighbor. And she wanted to share all that she had equally with her brothers and sisters. Ann knew she could not take her earthly possessions with her, and she had developed a meaningful relationship with God. If God were to call you from this world today, who would you be: Ann, who understood that what matters is God, or the rich fool who only thought about himself, how much he had and how much he did not want to share his wealth, even with his brother.
Readings for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiastes 1: 2; 2: 21-23
Psalm 90: 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
Colossians 3: 1-5, 9-11
Luke 12: 13-21
Deacon Thomas G. Davis is a permanent deacon who serves at St. Anselm Church, Bay Ridge.