At the beginning of this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus is asked to be an arbitrator between two brothers to settle a dispute over their inheritance. Instead of settling their dispute, Jesus instead warns the crowd, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
He then reminds the crowd of the parable of the rich fool; a farmer who tears down his barns to build bigger ones for storage of his abundant crop after a successful yield. In this story, the problem is not so much the man’s accumulation of wealth, but rather his blind and selfishness hording.
At a young age many of us are taught to save, to be responsible and think about securing our future. Is this wrong? Well, in this parable, the rich farmer is known as a fool not because he saves for the future or is wealthy, but because he seems to live only for himself. He believes that he can secure his life with his abundant possessions, and he is blinded by the love of money.
Like the rich farmer, we are tempted to believe that amassing substantial amounts of money and possessions will make us secure or content. However, Jesus warns us that no amount of wealth or property or possessions can secure our lives or provide us life in abundance.
The problem is not ownership of possessions but ownership by possessions. Possessions will always be in the picture but should look smaller when seen against the backdrop of life.
As highlighted in the case of the fighting brothers at the beginning of the passage, attachment to wealth and property can damage relationships and blind us from our present self.
A person who desires wealth is easily enticed to make its acquisition their number one priority. When that person has wealth, they can be easily enticed to devote their life to protecting and increasing it. We are persuaded to believe that we can find true security in wealth.
There is freedom in knowing that this is not true, and our true richness in life will come from being devoted to the present. It is in this freedom that we can live richly towards others – not blinded by a love of possessions or money. Once we can be present in our lives, we can prioritise God’s wealth. Investing in others with love, compassion, hope, acceptance, and God’s unlimited generosity.
In this way, we will not be defined by our possessions, and can be on guard against all kinds of greed.