This homily was delivered at a Typika service at St. Matthew Orthodox Mission in Baton Rouge, LA, November 18, 2007.

Luke 12: 16-21

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! We have a very strong word from Christ in His parable in the Gospel reading this afternoon. We tend to find ourselves very comfortable with and among our possessions. So our mentality toward money and material things make this parable somewhat difficult for us to hear. Because of our general disposition, the basic storyline of this parable really doesn’t seem that troubling. The parable is basically a very rich man who has a wonderfully productive year and has to decide how to deal with all of this additional wealth. That‘s the basic story. And we see this in the world today all the time. Most of us probably put some extra money aside for security, retirement, a rainy day. So that connection we have to this rich man, our sympathy, our desire to be like him, even, with his financial abundance and security, that makes God’s word to this man quite baffling for us. “Fool!” God says, “This night your soul will be required of you: then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12:20) This chastisement seems a bit overboard to us because we hear it with the thought in mind that the man is being chastened because of his wealth. And that just doesn’t seem fair, especially when we wouldn’t mind a little of that wealth ourselves. But that’s not what God says—the rich man is not to be punished simply because he’s rich. And in fact, if we make a quick survey of the Old Testament, we’ll see that many men very close to God’s heart—Abraham, King David, King Solomon, Job—these men were phenomenally wealthy. It’s not the wealth of the man that gets him in trouble. It’s what’s in his heart. David is a king, the richest man in the land, but a man after God’s own heart. This rich man says in his heart, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). His concern is only for himself. And now we look back on the Gospel reading and realize that he tears down barns to build bigger barns. Who needs a barn filled with crops? That’s enough to feed hundreds of people. This rich man’s only concern is for his own comfort and ease of life. And he mistakenly thinks that his “happiness”—the temporal physical pleasures he gets from his wealth—he thinks this happiness comes from himself and is all he needs. He relies on his money and himself for everything. And now God’s words become more clear—when his soul is required (when he dies), who will own the things he’s gathered? It won’t matter, because it won’t be him. When we die, we don’t get to take it with us. And Christ wants us to hear the word that there are things in life much more important than how big of a barn we can build, or how much money we have, or what type of things we’re able to provide for ourselves. None of these things have eternal value. And if they become our obsession, as in this parable, then not only do they have no value, but they will be for our eternal condemnation. And then the last verse of the parable will apply to us as well, “so is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). Being rich toward God is what will matter for eternity. Cultivating the field of our relationship with Christ. Planting the virtues, and gathering the crop of good works. As we enter the Nativity Fast, which began just a few days ago, our preparation for the birth of our Lord. As we enter this period of more intense fasting and prayer and focus on our spiritual life, a worthwhile analysis would be—are we spending our time gathering worldly riches that time and death will take away, or are we spending our time gathering heavenly riches, that time cannot spoil, and eternity cannot take away. For us as Christians, all that matters is Christ and the Gospel He preaches. Everything else will fall away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. May God give us His grace to persevere in the course that He has laid out for us, and may He give us the strength to avoid the trappings that material wealth can offer us. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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