The suggested Lectionary reading for this coming Sunday is Luke 12: 13-21 – a teaching on Greed.
Someone approaches Jesus asking for assistance with a family dispute. Jesus refuses to act as judge but turns the request around into a warning about what is and isn’t important in life and to God. Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who already has goods enough for himself and his family yet experiences a bumper crop that will ensures his well being for decades to come. He’s wealthy and getting wealthier. He’s so wealthy that he has to reconfigure his storage system. Yet, all that wealth does him no good for there are no more years to come. He dies that night and faces God’s economics that prioritizes caring for the neighbor.
When I read this passage out loud to a friend, he came a bit undone. He is a middle manager in a corporate insurance company and he is very frustrated with the changes in benefits that have been pushing medical and future retirement costs toward him and away from the stockholder’s profit or the company president’s desire for a personal corporate jet or something. Now he knows that he is doing well compared to much of the rest of the world. The reality of owning a refrigerator that is filled with food that is easily obtained at the local grocery store places him much closer to the Rich Man then perhaps he wanted to consider but still he feels very threatened and anxious about his future. “What, I’m supposed to give it all away and sacrifice my sons’ future too? Everybody wants a piece of me!” My friend exploded.
“I’m trying to do the right thing,” he said. “I’m trying to save for retirement like I’m supposed to and provide decent savings for contingencies and provide for my kids! How much is enough?”