The Parable of the Rich Fool
In this excellent homily for 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Father Hanly reveals the secrets of The Parable of the Rich Fool.
Readings for Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
- First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
- Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
- Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
After hearing the Parable of the Rich Fool, I assume some of you might think that Jesus frowns on the rich, as if to be rich is a handicap to being a good Christian.
Not at all. Jesus is not interested in money. He’s not interested in who is rich or who is poor. He’s not interested in whether you’re successful or a failure. This is not his interest.
His interest is in the things of God. And, of course, God’s main interest is you and me.
So when Jesus speaks of these things, he’s saying: Listen to me. I’m telling you what your Father thinks of you.
You’re not to be spending all your time on such idle things as chasing after money or social status, or in plotting how to win the Mark Six lottery. In ancient days, such pastimes were known as “chasing the wind.” No! You’re much too important for such folly.
He who has created you has also committed himself to you, to be with you now and for all eternity.
It’s as if Jesus is saying to you: “I take you seriously. I’m not after money, I am after you.
“And I’m calling you to come follow me, to join me, yes, to be with me and I’ll teach you how to love yourself just as I love you, and reach out to care for others just as I care for them, too.
“I shall teach you all about forgiveness, and bringing light and new life to places where now there is only darkness and fear. And to bring peace to where there is no peace, and, of course, to bring God’s love to where there is no love.
“I no longer call you my disciples, I now call you my friends.”
And this is how Jesus comes to us, calling to us, inviting us to come and share in his work.
So if at times he seems a little bit hard on the rich, it is not because they are rich. Everybody knows that many of the greatest saints in the history of our Church have come from well-to-do families. It is not riches that corrupts the heart, but a refusal to love one another and to care for our poor.
The Bible says: “love of money is the root of all evil.” Not money itself, but the “love of money.” And that is because such a love is a distraction, it distracts our attention from all that is worthwhile here and now in this life.
Jesus in today’s gospel tells us a cautionary tale, The Parable of the Rich Fool, a parable for us all to mull about, to puzzle over, to make us think a little deeper about what real life is all about, especially your own life.
And so I will read The Parable of the Rich Fool and ask you to take it to yourself and find the truths that apply to you in it.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”
Ah, what a waste of talent, how terribly sad.
What Jesus in this parable is warning us against, and reaching out to rescue us from, is our tendency towards drowning ourselves in our own little pools of greed and selfishness.
Qoheleth, the author of Book of Ecclesiastes, in the First Reading, begins with these famous words:
Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
The poet seems full of gloom and despair about the world and its future.
But he also says while life can be full of sorrows and pain, it also has times of pleasure and joy, especially when with good friends and neighbours, who gather together to eat, drink, and be happy in each other’s company.
The poet also tells us we must appreciate what we have here, now, today, and live in the present, putting aside our worries about the past and fears of the future, placing our trust in God to take care of both.
For Christians, we followers of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus invites us to “come follow me; learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart…”
Jesus comes to serve, not to be served; to heal, to reach out and care for others, to show us how much we are loved by our Father, even to the point of allowing His only Son to lay his life down for our healing and salvation, so that we may never again forget our own true worth and value in our Father’s eyes.
It is truly our inner self, our minds and hearts, that God covets and God sustains and God loves without ceasing.
Problems? Of course, life is always full of problems, but with Him you’ll never again have to face a problem alone for he is with you. That is the promise given by Jesus who said: “I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.”
I’d like to end Luke’s Gospel today not with the sad and lonely Parable of the Rich Fool, but with what Jesus himself has chosen as his own proper ending: Trust in Providence (Lk 12: 22-32). This segment of the Gospel comes exactly after The Parable of the Rich Fool. Many feel these are the most beautiful words that Jesus ever spoke to his disciples.
At that time, Jesus said this to his disciples,
Jesus said to His disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.
For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.
Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds!
Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span?
If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?
Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore.
All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
This is the word of the Lord.