Glory to Jesus Christ!
My friends, here in the United States, we’ve just passed the “secular holiday,” if you want to call it that, of Thanksgiving. Secular or not, it’s an excellent thing to give thanks, to pause and to reflect on those things which we have – and even those things which we do not have – and to render thanks on their account: thanks, of course, to God, Who is the Provider of all that is… and also thanks to each other, for all that is brought to our lives through the efforts and the existence of each member of the human family.
Now, that kind of talk: human family, human this, human that, tends to be abused by the so-called humanists and by those who deny the transcendent… but for all that, it doesn’t mean it isn’t still true. We ought to be thankful for each other, for that which we do, for that which we can provide, and to take care of each other. That remains true, fundamentally true.
We hear in the Gospel a parable from our Lord about this idea. It’s not among the more well-known or picturesque parables. Frankly, it doesn’t seem to be a very consoling parable. But it is worth our consideration.
In the parable, we have a rich man who owned fields and farms and who has had a great harvest. And his storehouses and his barns were not large enough to contain all of the fruits which he had harvested. So he makes plans to tear down all his barns and build larger ones to keep everything he has, and makes plans then to sit back and relax, and enjoy all that he has.
But then it turns out that he dies that night, and God say to him: “Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” Our Lord concludes: So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.
That’s it. A rich man, an excess of goods, makes plans to tear down his barns and build new ones to store the excess, and then enjoy the good life. Suddenly dies before he can do any of that. And apparently no one enjoys anything. The end.
Like I said, not one of the more crowd-pleasing parables. But I do think we ought to see ourselves just a little bit in the person of that rich man.
We may not have great amounts of material wealth, as he did. But he is not chastised for having wealth. His mistake was laying up treasure for himself, and not being rich towards God.
We each of us do the same thing, maybe even every day. We might not even notice it. But those of us who live, we have an inestimable treasure in our care, each and every day simply by being alive. And how quick we are to use our time for things which do not matter – things which are not even certain or promised to us.
The rich man in the parable wanted to undertake a great deal of work, tearing down perfectly good barns to build larger ones, and this all for a tomorrow which never did come for him.
Now, it is good to prepare for the future, definitely. But never at the expense of our duty to the present. While it is left unsaid, it is certain that the rich man in the parable could have brought about a great deal of good, a great of deal of relief to those who stood in need, were he to have given of his excess goods. He already had full barns and storage. He was already well-prepared, materially speaking, for the coming year. That which was over and above could have been used in the love of God – Who provided all the goods – that others could simply live.
For you see, God is the ultimate provider. All that we have is from Him. To be rich towards God is quite simply to be like God: to provide for another’s necessity. To comfort the afflicted. To work all the works of mercy.
Now, we may not have great barns full of goods that we can give away. But we each of us do have – if nothing else – our existence, our time, friendship, a kind word, a sympathetic ear. These can provide for necessities just as much as material goods can.
Let us be thankful for the opportunity to be able simply to provide of ourselves for each other. For, for each of us, just as for the rich man in the parable, there will be a day when our souls will be required of us. There will be a day which will be our final day. Let us live so that when that day come we will not have any regret over good which we left undone, over kind words left unsaid, or over thanks left ungiven.