Homily 382 – 22nd after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
November 17, 2019
Epistle: (215) Galatians 6:11-18
Gospel: (66) Luke 12:16-21
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
Foolishness is not something most of us aspire to. In fact, I believe most of us try very diligently to avoid it whenever possible.
When our Lord tells the parable of the rich man building bigger barns, and calls that man a fool, we should take note. It might be considered wise to take note. Let those with ears to hear, hear.
The Greek word used here is “afron” (ἄφρων). Literally it means “without sense”. Nonsensical. Sometimes translated “crazy” or “stupid”.
We find it other places in the scriptures. In the old testament, it is found, like we might expect, throughout the Proverbs, where wisdom and foolishness are contrasted. It is also the word used when the people of God abandon their relationship with God.
They are called “foolish”, “senseless”, and “without understanding”. In Jeremiah the prophet, God goes on to say they are experts in evil and have no idea how to do good.
That’s harsh. But, given the abandonment of everything, I have to call it accurate.
In the new testament, the word is found again, but it has a bit of a different edge to it. In the letters of St. Paul it tends to have the implication of not knowing – ignorance.
Perhaps that is a good thing – because ignorance can always be fixed. That is what our Lord is doing here. Fixing ignorance – showing us the way things really are.
What is so crazy about this man’s plan? Isn’t that the object – to work hard so we can sit back, eat, drink, and be merry?
Our Lord says no. That is not the object. Completely the opposite.
Our reading today begins in Luke Chapter 12, verse 16. But going back a couple of verses we can understand the question the parable was designed to illustrate. That’s what parables do – bring illustration or enlightenment.
If we go back in St. Luke’s Gospel to verse15, our Lord answers the man asking Jesus to arbitrate in an estate settlement – tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.
Jesus says, “Absolutely not – I am not a judge or arbitrator.” He goes on to say, “Beware! Keep yourselves from all covetousness, for a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
A person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. That’s is our Lord and Creator and God enlightening us. Eliminating our ignorance.
The t-shirts that say “The one who dies with the most toys wins” isn’t true. In fact, it is the opposite of truth – it is a lie. It’s humorous, perhaps. But it is also dangerous.
While we might laugh it off, there is a temptation lurking to engage this a bit. Not really think about it, but occasionally say, “I deserve this.” “I’m going to do something nice for myself.”
We say, “I will pull down my barns, build bigger ones, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. Then I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods stored up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry!”
Foolishness. Nonsensical. Crazy.
Immediately after the passage, in verse 22, Jesus uses the word: Therefore.
Having heard the parable, here is what the implications are. Here is what you need to take away from this.
Forgive me, but I will read the entire passage that follows, because I think it is one of the most critical passages in the whole of Christ’s teaching.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore, I tell you not to be anxious about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. No, life is more than food and the body is more than clothing! Consider the ravens: they do not sow, they do not reap, they do not have a warehouse or barn, and yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Which one of you by worrying can add a single day to his life? If you are not able to accomplish even the smallest things, why then are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow. They do not toil or spin; yet, I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if this is how God clothes the grass of the field, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, you of little faith? Do not set your hearts on what you will eat and drink; do not be apprehensive. It is the pagan world that runs after all these things, and your Father understands that you need them. Seek rather the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Make for yourselves purses which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief can reach and where moth cannot destroy. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Brothers and sisters, God loves us. God loves us more than we even know how to love. And He will take care of us. He will!
We don’t need to build storehouses, because God will take care of us. We may have to work, we may need to depend on our children or our families, be it biological families or spiritual families.
Savings will not provide for us. Investments will not provide for us.
God will provide for us. He has given us His Kingdom. Because He loves us.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!