In his opening remarks, Jesus proclaims that he will not participate in pronouncing any kind of judgment. Still, he rather sneakily uses the parable, in fact, to pronounce judgment. Jesus seems to say to the young man desperately wishing to draw him into his family quarrel, “You’re paying attention to the wrong things!” In the New Revised Standard Version translation, Jesus sets the scene for his story and tells the crowd to “Take care” (v. 15). The original Greek word for this phrase means see, view, or perceive. He does not tell them to listen up or pay close attention. Instead, Jesus tells them to “perceive,” and then follows with, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (v. 15). By saying this, Jesus indicates that this goes beyond objective reality or rationalizations of the mind. He wants the young man and the crowd to feel the meaning within their bodies, and to know in a different kind of way.
This does not necessarily seem to be a lesson centered on sharing, but the rich man in the parable uses the word “my” five times in the span of just two verses: “my crops,” “my barns,” “my grain,” “my goods,” “my soul” (v. 17-19). Then, he knocks down his old barn and builds a bigger one to hold his stash. Luke stresses the importance of an equitable society, so the truth to be perceived comes directly from Jesus’ use of the word abundance. With great irony, the rich man capitalizing on his abundance makes him blind to the truth of God’s abundance. The rich man’s greed is built upon his fear of scarcity for his future. Luke drives this point home when God says, “You fool!” (v. 20), echoing Jesus’ opening sentiments to the young man. God seems to say, “Your eyes are so narrowed on your material accumulations, you cannot see the destruction your greed rains upon you or the others around you.”
Within your communities, where do you see the fear of scarcity doing harm to others?
(Resources are from Sermons that Work, TEC)
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