Fr. Santosh Madanu: The Parable of the Rich Fool

Sermon delivered on Trinity 7C, Sunday, August 4, 2019 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

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Lectionary texts: Hosea 11.1-11; Psalm 107.1-9,43; Colossians 3.1-11; Luke 12.13-21.

Luke 12: 21 “This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God”.

In the world we have a day devoted to fools called April fool’s day where we trick someone into falling for something to make them appear to be a fool. Have you ever been tricked into being a fool?

Psalm 14: 1 says “The fool says in his heart there is no God.”  The fool in the parable was deceived into thinking and living like there was no God. God blessed him with abundant harvest but he failed to give thanks to God.  His life became self-centered and based on things and his pleasures.  He thought his struggle in this life is only over material things.  I pray through today’s message we may not be struggling only over material things but to learn to struggle with God.  That we learn to bring our hearts to God and offer up the things God gave us.  So that we become rich toward God.

Verse 13-15A man in the crowed says to Jesus “Teacher, Tell my brother to divide the inheritance”.

During those days it is customary that the older brother received double the inheritance and rest is divided between the other siblings. However, this man seems to have received nothing.  Perhaps it was this sense of unfairness or injustice that prompts this man to come to Jesus.  Struggling with this sense of injustice or unfairness must have so consumed this man that first is able to get the attention of Jesus; secondly that he dares ask such a personal question in the midst many thousands of people.

When we look at this man’s plea to Jesus, it reminds us of our children coming to us seeking parents to take their side in the dispute to share the property. This makes the parents go insane.

Jesus replied,  to “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you ? Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  Jesus response is not surely the response he expected to say to his brother.  However Jesus immediately turns to this man’s heart problem.

Proverbs 4:23 states “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” 

Life is not fair but we must know and live by spiritual truth.  By not fixing his heart his entire life will be affected.  When people place their priorities on material things rather than on eternal things, they are doing the foolish thing.  People affected by similar experiences often play the role of victim their entire life, holding on tightly to whatever they have and living in self-pity. And blame God saying God doesn’t help them out.  Though the life is not fair but Jesus is fair.

Romans 10:11-13 states “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.  For every one who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In Jesus, the weak will be made strong; the poor will be made rich.  Whatever injustice or pain you are suffering from the hurt of others bring it to Jesus and he will heal you and make you a new creation.

What was man’s heart’s problem?

The selfish desire or the greed and thinking that everyone exists for him. The greed will blind the person.  The material possession will never satisfy person.   The most valuable things are of eternal joy, eternal life and loving relationships with each other.

Jesus goes on to tell the rich man as fool.  Because his purpose of life involves nobody but himself.

The Rich man says to himself, I will do this, I will store up my grains, I will say to my soul.  He is preoccupied with himself.

This man thinks his wealth can buy him the security for the rest of his life.  However he is extremely short sighted.  Jesus says in verse 20 “this very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? A few years ago in China there was a billionaire who worked hard all day and night accumulating his vast amount of real Estates and wealth.  Then one day in his late 30’s the man suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack. Soon after, his wife re-married to his driver.  The driver had one word to say to everyone “all of these years I thought I was working for my boss, it turns out he was working for me.”  This is the tragedy for many, many politicians, businessmen, chief ministers and prime ministers and presidents. Most of them amass lot of wealth at the cost of some ones hard work or by cheating. They left their wealth for government or for others.  They are all foolish ones who think the money helps them to control every one and have their way in their lives.  Since this parable should help us that we become rich toward God.

First, we must know that God is the source of all riches. We need to store up many treasures in heaven.

1 Cor 8:6 “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live.”

1 Timothy 6: 17-19 says  “command those who are rich in this present world not to arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but put their hope in god who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share…. So they may take hold of the life that is truly life.’

Our secular society has become enamored with having more and becoming more. Our kids want more toys and nicer clothes.  As adults we may desire the new car, the new/bigger house, that nice boat for the lake, or to be able to take that vacation to the Caribbean. But, to what end? The point is not that material things by themselves are bad.  The issue is that we get obsessed and become a slave to these things. 

Rather than using our time, talent, and treasure to glorify God and become rich spiritually, we become slaves to material things. Before we know it, we are making excuses and thinking how we really need that new pair of shoes when in reality we don’t and the $50 could buy several cases of food for the local soup kitchen or bedding for the homeless shelter. We have to work those long hours in order to keep the high paying job that pays for the nice house at the expense of spending time with our families or at Church. We skip Church on Sunday so we can take out the new boat on the lake that we just bought.  We focus so much on the house we need, the cars we need, and how much money we need for retirement 20 years from now that we don’t stop to think, “what if I’m not here?”  “What if I am called to God before then?” “Will I be able to say I fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, or clothed the naked?” Or, will I have an excuse that is rooted in my own desire to have more? 

We have all heard the saying “live like there is no tomorrow”, but it’s time to think about this in context of our eternal life. Even if our earthly time comes to an end, are we ready for eternity? There is going to be a tomorrow, but are we prepared for it? How about, “live like your eternal life starts tomorrow!”

I am as guilty as anybody here. I pray that Sacred Scripture helps me make better choices and maybe for you as well.

The lesson here is that God doesn’t care about our earthly treasures and riches.  Having lots of money, lots of possessions, and lots of things that we think are going to make us happy mean nothing to God, and don’t help us get into Heaven.