Luke 12:13-31

 

1. Lk 12:13-14. The man's request seems reasonable. He apparently feels defrauded by his brother regarding an inheritance. If true this would indeed be wrong. Jesus answer is unexpected; he asks who has made him judge of this matter.

a. He is the eternal judge (2 Timothy 4:1; Romans 2:16) but it would be important for the man to answer the question for himself who has appointed him to this role. Peter teachies that "you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially" 1 Peter 1:17 and Jesus says "I and the Father are one." John 10:30. "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son..."John 5:22.

b. Nevertheless, people, ordinary human beings are not to judge (Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37). Thus Jesus is perhaps reminding him that he needs to avoid being judgemental, or that we should leave judgement to God. Jesus does not say there would never be judgement; only that it would not be now, nor would it involve the man getting the money he wants. Jesus's teaching will condemn the wrong doer on the last day. "[T]hat very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day." John 12:48b.

c. He may be asserting that God will not interfer with economic matters. It is not something important to God. As James says at James 2:3-4 "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

2. Jesus indicates that the man's motive for seeking judgement and intervention is greed, which is an "Excessive desire for more than one needs or deserves: acquisitiveness, avarice, avariciousness, avidity, covetousness, cupidity, graspingness."  Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition.  1995. It is related to covetousness that is condemned by the ninth and tenth commandments. (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21)

Jesus' command to avoid greed is thus in direct harmony with the commandments and is a warning of its danger. James 4:2 "You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight..."

3. "A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Lk 12:15b. When we hear something like this our natural defense mechanisms charge in causing us to think that we agree and that we don't value possessions that much. We would usually say to ourselves that we are not rich; we don't have abundant possessions, and we have lived differently. However most of our lives are engaged in collecting more things, keeping things, and desiring more things. To understand the danger we are all in, especially the average person in the west, ask yourself how would you feel if you lost it all? What if you lost your home, car, and bank account? What if you failed to keep the house or apartment and upon eviction they tossed all your stuff into the street but you had no way to collect and store it or even transport it, however meger the amount. How then would you feel? Would you commit suicide? Who among us could say with Job "We accept good things from God; and should we not accept evil?" Job 2:10 NAB.

However, the only way you could live is to realize and accept Christ's truth, your life is more than your possessions.

The church certainly recognizes that for most of us some possessions as well as shelter are necessary evils. However, we must not become unduely attached to them.

2407 "In economic matters, respect for human dignity requires the practice of the virtue of temperance, so as to moderate attachment to this world's goods..."

2544. "Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them 'renounce all that (they have)' for his sake and that of the Gospel.[Lk 14:33 ; cf. Mk 8:35 .] Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on.[Cf. Lk 21:4 .] The precept of DETACHMENT from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven."

2556. "DETACHMENT from riches is necessary for entering the Kingdom of heaven. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit.'" The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

4. The story that Jesus tells should speak to any farmer or bussiness man. Here is someone who did it right. He worked hard, was blessed in his harvest. He took advantage of good fortune not by waisting his produce or money but by providing for his old age. In this he is like anyone who provides for retirement. God taking his life seems a cruel joke, but it is Jesus's wisdom that the man acted foolishly. He was more concerned about present wealth insead of what is wealth in God's eyes. It is ok to be prudent and provident for oneself materially and for those dependant on us but also be provident spiritually. We will all die and the possessions will go to someone else, so provide for that too.

Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

Luke 12:33-34 "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

1 Timothy 6:18-19 "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."