PARABLE OF THE RICH FOOL
“And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’” (Lk 12: 16-21)
How sad for the rich man in this parable, that he learned he was a “fool” only at the very end of his life. After all, he just wanted to “take his ease,” that is to say, to have peace, in the final years of his life, and to “eat, drink,” and “be merry,” after his land had “brought forth plentifully.” Was that a “bad” thing for him to desire? No. We all want to live, i.e., to “eat and drink,” in peace and joy, in this life. But the “folly” of this man, whom God calls a “fool,” was in striving to attain this desire by “storing” or hoarding his wealth “for himself,” rather than sharing it outwards and upwards, in a God-focused manner, or “toward God.” The latter Way of being wealthy, the God-focused Way, does bring actual peace and joy to our lives, to our “eating and drinking,” because our wealth is God’s in the first place, and it finds its “peace” in being returned to Him. But this rich man’s way, of “laying up treasure for himself,” only produces a feeling of discomfort and insufficiency, – because on this self-seeking path, any amount of wealth always “feels” like it’s not quite enough. So it doesn’t bring us peace.
I don’t need to “store” anything for myself, of my God-given gifts. I need to give them away, because it is through giving that I receive, in God, while “storing” or hoarding them is foolish. Because that’s the way my Creator, and His created world, works: When it comes to our “vocation,” or responding to God’s “call” to us, to give of ourselves to Him and others, through our specific talents, it is through giving that we receive, abundantly and endlessly, - like the widow of Zarepheth who fed the prophet Elijah from her scarcity in 1 Kings 17, and like the Apostles, through whom the Lord fed the multitudes from just five loaves and two fish (Mt 14: 17). This is a constant leitmotif in Scripture: We receive through giving, and not through “storing” of hoarding for ourselves. Thank You, God, for teaching me to give, of Your own gifts that You have given me, “Your own of Your own” (Τὰ σὰ ἐκ τῶν σῶν, / Твоя от Твоих), so I’m not stressed out or burdened by “storage-issues,” nor alienated from others, by Your gifts. I just need to give them away, and do that today, by Your grace and wisdom.