Luke chapter 12 verses 13-26
Some people seek moral guidance from gurus. Here, it’s not so much guidance that someone wants from Jesus, it’s judgement:
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” (12: 13)
This is someone who really has not understood what Jesus is about. Only Luke among the three synoptic Gospel authors records this conversation and the parable that follows it. (12: 16 – 20, though it also appears in the Gospel of Thomas at 63: 1-3)
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?”
He decides to increase his storage space and says to himself:
“Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat drink and be merry.”
Elsewhere in the Gospel accounts Jesus says it’s harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. So where does that leave all us Christians in the developed world? By comparison with the desperate migrants risking death to cross from Libya to Europe we are all rich. It behoves us to be very sensitive to the possibility that our moral judgement is compromised by our wealth. The sting of the parable is surely in that well known phrase: ‘relax, eat, drink and be merry.’ I assume that Bill and Melinda Gates have not succumbed to that temptation. Their Foundation channels their wealth into lots of admirable schemes designed to redress the balance between richer and poorer nations of the world.
The crucial thing for us in rich developed countries is to remember who we truly are. Material wealth can make us blind to the spiritual wealth that is ours: the wealth we cannot store up any more than we can store up life-giving breath that can only be taken moment by moment. And for all of us there will come a moment when the breath-taking ceases and we begin the transition to dust.