Tuesday, July 30, 2013

You Can't Take It With You

The parable of the farmer in Luke 12:13-21 makes me a little uncomfortable. Is Jesus talking to me? I suppose I indentify a little too closely with the farmer. But wait a minute, this guy’s not a cheat; he’s worked hard for what he has. He provided well for his family and educated his children, after which he set some savings aside for the future. But was there ever really enough? If I just had a little more in the bank or if I could just get a better return on my investments without risking our future? Sure I can relate but isn’t he living the “American Dream?” Isn’t this what Max Weber espoused in his social-economic theories that have come to be known as the Protestant Ethic, in which certain Protestant denominations considered hard work in pursuit of economic gain as being as being a reflection of moral and spiritual blessings (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism)? This moral-economic philosophy gave birth to the rise of Capitalism and the unprecedented growth of the United States in virtually every sector. In many ways, it provided the directional compass for the youth of our generation who were instructed to use our God-given talents, work hard and get ahead. So, what’s wrong with that?

Luke prompts us to wonder what does it mean to get ahead? After all, there is an end to it all. This is the one very important thing for which the farmer has not planned -- his reckoning with God. “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

Despite our technological advances; our intellectual prowess or cultural achievement, the human condition guarantees that we cannot escape its legacy. As such, our lives are fraught with uncertainty and insecurity. Perhaps this may be the reason we strive for a measure of security and control over the vagaries of life through our own efforts or accomplishments.

The farmer has fallen prey to worshiping the most popular of gods: himself. The farmer is called a "fool" not because of his wealth or ambition but rather because he accords finite things infinite value. He has tried to insulate himself from his ultimate destiny through his own resourcefulness and in the end will have “come up empty.” He has all he believes he wants and more, yet, at the end - which comes that very night…it proves inadequate.

Life is all about priorities. Where is God is in our lives? How do we invest the gifts that God has given us? Are our lives aligned for our own goals and passing desires, or with God, our neighbor and what God has planned for us?


Luke 12:13-21

1 comment:

  1. You can't take it with you, but you can use it to get where you're going.

    Fr. Don