Possessions, Hoarding and Greed
Today’s readings suggest that the greedy acquisition of wealth and power is futile, because everything and everyone is “here today and gone tomorrow.” So the meaning of life cannot be found in selfishly hoarding wealth and possessions, but only in sharing these with the needy. The subject of coveting or hoarding arises because of a request by someone in the crowd for Jesus to intervene in a matter of inheritance. Jesus refuses and turns the conversation into a lesson against materialism. This he illustrates with a story about a prosperous farmer who decides to hoard his excess crops. The rich man decides to build extra barns. Jesus seems to be suggesting that the farmer should have shared his extra grain with the poor. The craving to hoard not only puts goods in the place of God, but it is an act of total disregard for the needs of others. The parable is not about the farmer’s mistreatment of workers or any criminal actions on his part. The farmer is, in the end, careful and conservative. So if he is not unjust, what is he? The parable says he is a fool. He lives completely for himself. He only talks to himself, plans for himself, and congratulates himself. His sudden death proves him to have lived as a fool. “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
Possessions and greed become more important than people. In other words, “possession fixation” destroys relationships. The man who interrupts Jesus’ teaching is unaware of his inappropriate intrusion. He cannot connect appropriately with his outer world because of the urgency of his inner world and personal needs. The parable of the rich fool gives us a warning as well as an invitation. It reminds us that our possessions are merely loaned to us by God, and that we are accountable for their use. We must be generous in sharing our time, our treasure, and our talents in Christian stewardship. Even if we are poor financially, we may be blessed with intelligence, good will, a sense of humour or the ability to console, encourage, inspire and support and help others. God expects us to give our thanks to Him for all these blessings by sharing them with others for His glory.