Storing the bountiful harvest

Homily 334 – 25th after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
November 18, 2018
Epistle: (224) Ephesians 4:1-6
Gospel: (66) Luke 12:16-21

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

Jesus tells us this morning a parable. The truth that this parable communicates is that nothing belongs to us. We earned exactly nothing.

Everything we have is a gift from God. And thinking otherwise is dangerous.

The ground of a certain rich man produced in abundance. Notice that the abundance wasn’t attributed to the rich man – but to the ground.

The man, however, took possession of the fruit of the ground. Note that this man was already called “rich”. He already had an abundance.

The rich man makes a decision that the Lord God calls “foolish”. A bit further, actually, as he calls the man a fool.

He decides to tear down his existing storage and build bigger storage. A reasonable human reaction – but one the Lord says is the solution of a fool.

Why? Because that very night he will die.

Either way he goes – if he hoards the abundance, or if he doesn’t – he will not be around to enjoy the abundance.

And neither will we.

Someone else will enjoy most, if not all, of our efforts. So instead of hoarding – prepare for the life which is to come. Share now, avoid the rush.

Blessed Theophylact in his commentary reminds us that the man need not build new storage. God has placed storage in our midst.

They are called “the poor.” The needy, the hungry, the homeless. Theophylact tells us the storehouses of God are the stomachs of the poor.

Christ tells us in another place, in the gospel of Matthew, that when we give to the poor, when we provide shelter and food for the hungry and homeless, when we visit those who are sick and in prison, we are serving Christ Himself, even when we don’t know it.

But we cannot serve Christ with the bountiful harvest in storage.

And we recall that St. Paul wrote in his second epistle to the Corinthians:

For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” (2 Cor 8:13-15)

We don’t get to take anything with us to heaven. Better to have the prayers of the poor than a collection of rotting stuff.

Peter tells Christ at one point that they have given up everything to follow Him. And Christ responds:

everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. (Mt. 19:29)

The Gospels are full of these promises from God to us. And, in addition, He promises us that He will provide for our needs also!

We do not have to worry about going without. We give confidently. Joyfully. Knowing with full certainty that in the Kingdom of God – the only place it matters – we are doing exactly what God wants from us.

After all, what is God’s will? That we love one another. That we meet one another’s needs.

I read an article about people who saved and retired early – before they were 40. Because they both quit their jobs, they experienced a significant decline in social interaction, including with their own family and friends.

They stayed home, or traveled. Their family and friends could not join them because – guess what? – they had to work. They had family obligations.

So these young retirees were free – but alone.

Perhaps some people can live that way – I cannot. I need people around me, interacting with me. Being alone isn’t human nature. God’s first pronouncement about the human He created was that it wasn’t good to be alone.

So. We have a lot of evidence about the way we should act, and the way we should give. We have a lot of evidence about the promises made to us by God, should we choose to follow His path.

Do we trust in God? Or do we trust in the wealth God entrusts to us?

We all know the “correct answer.” We know, even if we can’t articulate it, that relationships are more important that belongings.

We know that everything we have is given us by God.

So that we can trust in His promises to care for us, both here, and in the Kingdom which is in our midst, forever.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!