Twenty-Six Sunday after Pentecost

(Luke 12:16-21)

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “ Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you. Then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.”

The belief that material gain can save us from internal pain is put simply, a false utopia. Pain is present, without exemption, in all facets of our society. It doesn't depend on the worth of a person. What actually hurts is the state of one's spiritual being if left unattended, because man is created for eternity, yet lives in this world of musts where we are born, live and eventually die, and as such, man cannot escape suffering. That internal hurt cannot be soothed with worldly pleasures: food, drink and party. What comfort does one that is sentenced to death gain from eating, drinking and partying, if one witnesses death approaching? That is the state of life of all those that live without God. Aware of one's mortality and created state, and without a solution, such a person attempts to find relief in material and worldly pleasures. The human soul being God-like in nature becomes an immense burden for a non- believer, and by existing alone, without God, the soul becomes unbearable for such a person. That is exactly what happened to the rich man from this Gospel.

We can see that he doesn't „speak“ to his body. He speaks exclusively to his soul. His body is content as it has „abundance for many years“, but the anxiety he is constantly felling is coming from his soul. This is actually soul's hunger and thirst for God. Non-believers can only feel this yearning as insecurity, hunger, thirst and sorrow. Without God as the only solution to this anxiety, people attempt to quench that craving with earthly pleasures.  That is the moment when the rich man says to his soul: „Eat, drink and be merry.“

It is important to notice that the Lord at the same instant states: “This night your soul will be required of you.” As soon as man makes the decision to give up on attaining eternal life he faces a spiritual death. For Christians, one's „final“ death is not the separation of body and soul, but that removal from God as the fountain of life. If man drifts away from God in this world, he will be apart from God in the next world as well.

All the while, as this man worked and gained, his soul hurt due to his distance from God. Now that he achieved everything he set out to do so as to live a pleasant and easy life, instead of turning to God at that point, he finds solace and security in that which he has accumulated. That is the point at which man is spiritually dead and hands his soul over to demons, as one cannot serve God and Mammon. The Lord even calls this man „a fool“, because of his choice to not invest in gaining life eternal, but instead for the gaining of material wealth, for which not even he knows whose it will be on the following day.

This Gospel does not speak against the gaining of that which is required for every person to live, but against human greed and the obsession with material things. The Gospel begins with the description of how someone who is already rich suddenly became even wealthier. God’s reaction came only after that man decided to give up on his eternal life. Many times in the New Testament Christ reminds about significance of our souls. For example: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). The Lord knows that one requires a home, clothing, food...

„So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:31-34).

Many, even today, ignore this battle for one's own eternal life under the excuse that one needs to secure a roof over one's head, to pay off loans, even going as far as to secure „life“ for children and grandchildren. Instead of teaching one's child to have faith in the Lord, and not entirely on themselves and this world, they preach that wealth accumulation is the primary aim of our existence. The end result is always extreme disappointment. If one doesn't succeed in riches, one ends up saddened due to failure. If one succeeds, again one is saddened for not having made more, or due to envy that another has done better. Happiness and content from material gain is only ever short-lived, as man is amused shortly with such gain. And with all this wealth, spiritual satisfaction isn't attained, as man is not a material being alone, but also a spiritual one. The soul will thus eternally hunger and thirst for God. Spiritual pain, suffering, fear of death, fear of failure, worldly disappointment, internal conflict... and many more negative sentiments will continue to burden man.

We need to feed our bodies with earthly food in order to survive, but our souls need different kind of food. Christ is very clear when He says: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). Earthly bread is necessary for our physical survival, but “not on bread alone”, means it’s not enough. By performing Christian virtues, living life according to Christ's blessed message of the Gospel, yearning for the Kingdom of God as the main and only aim of our lives, we will bring our soul close to God. That is how we feed our soul with spiritual food and become „wealthy in God“. Christ–like life is the only way for humans to achieve spiritual satisfaction and stop internal pain and discomfort. 

Fr. Sasa Radoicic

Source: Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand