Fool forever

Homily 287 – 24th Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
November 19, 2017

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

Ever wonder how we define a fool? In the New Testament, we don’t use that word much. But this morning, our Lord uses it.

This morning, we hear a description of foolishness. A rich person decides he has enough. He no longer has to work.

This man was not generous. He had way more than he needed, enough for many years. And his only focus was himself.

Not once did he mention others. Not even family.

I’m sure that he was a hard worker. But notice something.

He did not create the harvest. The ground yielded a bountiful harvest. Not the effort of the farmer – but the ground.

Farming is like that. We don’t know how to mix things together that can grow. Replication, even of plant cells, is from God.

We can plant, water, weed, nurture. But we cannot cause growth. That is God’s territory.

We can create conditions favorable for growth, favorable for life. But we can’t create growth, we can’t create life.

Even inanimate things we cannot create, if you think about it. We can combine, assemble, extract, build – but not create.

There is only one thing we have to offer that is truly ours to give. And that is our love.

This person was so self absorbed, he even hoarded his love.

Why? Comfort. Ease. Pleasure. Or, one might say, sloth.

And that, brothers and sisters, is foolish. And people who do foolish things – who take foolish acts – are fools. So says our Lord.

Further, God says, this night will require your soul.

What will you do now? Who will receive the benefit of your labor, which is really God’s gift?

And – what will support you in that place? The new place where your soul will go? You no longer have many years of support to take your ease.

We have spoken before of blessed Theophylact and his commentaries. He writes that this person chose earthly barns instead of heavenly ones.

What are these heavenly barns? Heavenly storehouses?

Theophylact says the storehouses of God are the stomachs of the poor. St. Basil tells us that if there are hungry, or naked, or homeless, and we have food, clothes, or shelter to spare, we are like thieves.

Don’t know about you, but I would not wish to be a fool or a thief. But why be either?

What do we do that is foolish? How can we avoid being fools?

We must change our thinking about the things around us. We need to see them, all of them, as blessings from God.

Why do we bless our food? Because we didn’t produce it – it is a gift from God. Everything is a gift from God.

The psalmist writes every breath should praise the Lord. Some, including myself, read that as “everything that has breath, praise the Lord.”

But the meaning is every single solitary breath, our breath, should praise the Lord. Praise Him – thank Him. We bless food to thank God for His gift of nourishment. We should also thank God and bless other things in our lives.

Give thanks to God and bless our vehicles. Give thanks to God and bless the server at the drive through. Give thanks to God and bless our tools. Our books. Our computers. Everything.

And, give thanks for the trials that come our way – because God sends them as he knows that we can handle them. That they are for our growth.

In Russian there is a proverb based on the idea that everything sent our way, whether we perceive them as good or bad, are because God loves us.

The proverb is to ask God to love us a little less. It is silly. But it is grounded in the truth that everything is a blessing, even the uncomfortable and painful things.

Because from them – from God – we grow.

So work, and work hard, in the labors we have. Give thanks. And take the blessings of God that come your way – my way – and put them in God’s bank.

Then, you can take your ease not just for many years. Then, after the soul is separated from the body, then you and I can take ease forever. Forever.

Besides, it isn’t really yours and mine anyway. It belongs to God.

We are trustees of what we have, or rather trustees of what God has given to us. Stewards, on behalf of the poor.

We can store up what God has entrusted to us, or use it for God’s purpose.

So that we can take our ease in the life to come.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.