Fooling God or himself? Homily for 10/20/14 Parable of the Rich Man and the Grain Bins

Who's mission are you on, God's or your own?

Homily for Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

My mother used to always say that you never see a Brinks truck following a hearse. I always thought that was a bit of New York Italian folk wisdom -- that is, until Randy Travis wrote his Country and Western song, “Brinks Truck,” about fifteen years ago. He added that you don’t need a wallet when you leave the earth. That’ll be nice, not having to worry about carrying a wallet around all the time!

It is sad what can happen when a loved one leaves the earth. It’s sad to lose a loved one, of course. But what is really much sadder is when a family breaks apart, fighting over the inheritance. Just like that “someone in the crowd” who asked Jesus to tell his brother to share the inheritance with him.

It can get ugly. Lawyers get drug into it. People are left with bitterness and resentments. Is it worth it? Is it really that important?

That man loved “stuff” more than he loved his brother. Maybe his brother did too. The brother was being kind of stingy, wasn’t he? Even if he had a right to keep the inheritance, shouldn’t he have shared with his brother? Doesn’t Jesus care about what’s fair?

Jesus cares about what is in our hearts. That man can’t change his brother’s heart; but he can change his own heart. Jesus is warning him about the danger of greed. He is teaching him, and us, that there is more to life than our stuff.

Jesus tells a parable to the crowd to get the point across – about a rich fool who put his trust in building silos upon silos so that he could kick back and enjoy life; only to die that night and leave it all behind. Something interesting about this parable is that we hear God talking directly to one of the characters. And what profound words does Almighty God pronounce? “You fool!” God calls the man a fool!

Why is God so harsh on him? After all, he was only trying to ensure his financial security. Isn’t that what they tell us we’re supposed to do? Put money in the 401(k), get a retirement plan, and provide for the golden years? Isn’t that the responsible thing to do? What was he supposed to do?

Well, he might have tried being generous. He could have shared his bountiful harvest with the people who did not have enough to eat.

We can lose sight of things like that. The World Bank reports that more than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Now, I know that it wouldn’t even be possible to live on that here; but we only need to look in our garages to realize that we really have a lot of stuff. It’s not like that for most people on planet earth. We get all these messages that we don’t have enough, that more is always better. We call it materialism; or, a “consumer economy.” Jesus just calls it greed.

What are we to do? We can’t change the whole world, can we? Maybe not. But we can change ourselves. We can change our own hearts. Just a little, today. Just gradually, with the grace of God. We can start by looking at our lives, and seeing where we can be a little more generous. We can take an interest in global concerns. Maybe make a small, regular contribution to an organization that feeds the poor. That will make a difference in someone’s life. It may mean the difference between life and death for someone. We might not change the world; but we’ll change ourselves. And we can be a little more generous and forgiving with the people in our lives; even if they don’t deserve it. Pray about it.

And then you can be rich in what matters to God!

Deacon John Coe (Fort Worth, TX) (far right) is a Maryknoll Deacon Mission Partner