9th Sunday of Luke, Luke 12:16-21
Life is a gift of God. No amount of possessions, however abundant, can make it greater or give it security. The notion that life consists in possessions, in ‘having’ (the constant requirement of more), is cut in this ‘pericope’ by the understanding that life cannot be secured by possessions, that existence is a gift outside human control.
Humans have an eternal destiny (Lk 12:31-32). This existence is not their only one: what they do now has consequences for the future (Lk 12:20). This pericope (example) is a story about the rich fool. The man was rich because he had many crops. He was a fool because he thought they secured his life “for many years to come” (Lk 12: 19). When his life ended so were his possessions scattered. The point is not simply that one should ‘not worry’ about food and clothing (Lk 12:22), but that one should far more radically “sell what you have and give alms” (Lk 12:33).
This contrast between life as ‘existence’ and life as ‘possessions’ is made clear when Jesus said: “whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it’’ (Lk 17:33). What the Lord is saying is that a drenched person is not afraid of the rain and a slain person is not afraid of any threat. Through loss we reach gain, and by hatred of our- selves and possessions, we arrive at true love. The Human being has a hidden dynamism, such as the seed. If one does not die in the fertile land, they remain alone. But if one dies, they bear much fruit.
Wealth with respect to God has two meanings: faith and works. The first is the response of faith, to have a life of close communion with God (cf. Lk 12:37); the second is the disposition of possessions in accordance with faith. This means to share your possessions with others rather than accumulating them for one’s self (Lk 12:21).
Whoever worships, parades, and incenses themselves, drowns themselves. However if they have as an aim to “give everything” so that their brothers/sisters find rest, then these people have already entered into eternal life – because they live for their neighbours – they see themselves in everyone else (cf. Lk 10:25-28).
Jesus Christ and His saints have this kind of love; this is why they have that type of strength that defeats death. Because, they were true humans, they respected the ‘other’ as themselves. And this is why close to the saints – the small the humble and the great – each person feels valued. The saints’ rejoice when others feel valued and at peace.
But this does not occur if I make my own club and if I want to assert myself. Others feel valued, loved and at peace when I become compost so that the other can plant their tree, only if I move to the side, disappear and do not exist. I don’t even want a ‘thank you’ – it is enough for me that the ‘other’ has life!
The ‘other’ is me. “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ’’ (1Cor 12:12). “There is one body and one Spirit’’ (Eph 4:4). This is why the saints’ – the humble – even when they exist it is as if they don’t exist, they don’t take up room, and they don’t make a fuss. And when they are not around ‘in the flesh’, when they are away, they are equally with us and keep the whole world in life. So the saints’ mode of life is that of, voluntarily dying and sacrificing themselves out of love for the ‘Other’ and for the ‘other’, big or small God or neighbour.
Life seems so frail and contingent that many possessions are required to secure it, even though the possessions are frailer still than life. Only the removal of fear by the persuasion that life is a gift given by the source of all reality, can generate the spiritual freedom and heroism of love that is offered by the generous sharing of possessions, even of disposing oneself.