Luke 12:13-21 Parable of the rich fool

As far as the Bible is concern, the rich man mentioned in the Gospel who died while his barns were bulging with goods that he couldn’t use was not an evil man. Jesus didn’t say that he was dishonest, immoral, exploitative and oppressive. The man was rich prior to the harvest, and the harvest simply increased his wealth. Certainly, he appears to have been very successful in his occupation. He must have been an intelligent, resourceful, and industrious worker to have accumulated such great wealth. The Lord didn’t call him a sinner, but sad to say, the Lord denounced him as a fool.

What are some of the sins and failings of the the rich man why he deserved such harsh condemnation from the Lord?

First, the rich failed to restrain his obsession for possession and wealth. In the story we are told that he was so obsessed to hoard more, to possess more and to acquire more not knowing that death awaits him and caught him by surprise and, therefore, he was unprepared for his untimely death. And that costs him his soul. Indeed “Greed never rests from the acquiring of more” (On Love of Wealth 1 [Mor. 523 E]; L. T. Johnson 1991:198) until death puts a stop to it.

Second, the rich man made the mistake of thinking he was the absolute owner of his possessions when in truth he was just a steward of God’s gifts, graces and blessings. In his eyes, they were his barns, his fruits, his goods. He had forgotten, if he ever knew, that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

Possessions or wealth are not to be hoarded selfishly but to be used to benefit those around us. What a tragic misuse of the gift of resources this man had gained! What could have been an opportunity for generosity and blessing became a stumbling block to the soul. Indeed, money is the best servant but a worst master!

Third, he was worried about the present  only and forgot about eternity.

Fourth, he was concerned only for the physical and material and forgot about spiritual things.

Fifth, he treasured things more than people. It is not surprising, therefore, if that man is worldly, materialistic, self-centered and self-absorbed. As expected, he lived his life in isolation. The hint of his problem lies in the man’s use of the first-person pronoun.  Go through the parable and circle the words “I” and “my” to get a sense of the man’s self-absorption.  In his short conversation with himself, he uses the word “I” six times and the word “my” five times.  Everything is “I” and “my.”

In sum, the rich man  is guilty of greed or avarice which he greatly manifested by his self-absorption and obsession for possession and wealth. To borrow the words of St. Paul, he is guilty of “the love of money which is the root of all evil”  (see cf. 1 Tm 6:10). Worst of all, he is guilty of idolatry (see Col 3:5).

Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for even though you have many possessions, it is not that which gives you life’ (Mt12:15).  What does it profit a man if gains the whole world and loses his soul? Rather, be rich in what really matters to God (see Mt 12:21). Be rich in virtues, good works, and holiness.  “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6:33).

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