Reflection for the seventh Sunday after Trinity
“Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” Jesus in Luke 12:13-21.
“I am devastated by the judge’s finding…..as for the rest of her judgement, she got it wrong.” Rebekah Vardy, after the failure of her High Court case against Colleen Rooney.
Today’s Gospel is particularly pertinent, given the rising cost of living and how to provide in later life for such astonishing circumstances as the spectacular increase of petrol, utilities and food. Shell has just posted profits of £9.4 billion, electricity prices are forecast to rise by 77% in October and increasing costs have been termed ‘potentially catastrophic’ for some families by Martin Lewis, known as the Money
Saving Expert. None of the much-needed stored grain blocked by Russia has yet left Ukraine, although this may eventually happen, and so Jesus’ parable of the rich fool who has so much grain he needs bigger barns for it has many resonances today.
It may seem odd to call the farmer a fool – his land has produced an excellent yield and so he and his workers must have taken good care of it and worked hard. The difficulty lies in his attitude: “What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops…I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.” The farmer goes on to reassure himself that he will then have ample goods stored up for many years and can relax, eat, drink and be merry. Jesus calls him foolish, but not because he has wealth and is saving for the future and his golden years – those are wise things to do. It’s because he’s only concerned for himself and his own needs, unaware that his life will be taken that night and that his plans won’t actually come to fruition. Jesus warns against greed of all kinds and counting on the abundance of possessions but the farmer in his parable appears to have given no thought to the needs of anyone else or what God might ask of him, and he doesn’t seem to be thankful in any way. His wealth and possessions won’t save him and the grain might well have gone mouldy before he and his family could use it all. It’s in that respect that the farmer’s foolish – Jesus criticises him for storing up treasures just for himself and not being generous towards God.
Jesus’ words are a timely reminder that our lives and possessions are not our own, although we often act as if they are. All of us are affected by the circumstances in which we live and many of those who have planned for what they thought was a secure retirement are now faced with uncertainty and unprecedented economic consequences of the warfare in Ukraine, supply difficulties and climate change. That’s so for people of all ages as such chaotic circumstances affect us all – but that’s the point. This affects everyone and none of us is alone in it, although we may feel as if we are. The farmer was foolish because he didn’t consider the needs of anyone else and this parable reminds us that we must – in that respect, how can we be wise and not foolish ourselves? Whose needs do we need to consider today as well as our own? In this parable Jesus reminds his followers, then and today, that God is the ultimate judge of our time and actions – and no matter what she thinks of High Court judges, not even Rebekah Vardy will be able to disagree with his judgement!
With my prayers; pob bendith,