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Along the Way
priorities and a foolish farmer
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If God put us here for a purpose, do we spend the brief span of years given to us achieving that purpose? 

Imagine a guardian angle speaking to a young soul waiting to be born.

  • “You have about 80 years on Earth. In that time you need to learn only one thing; how to love. Why love? Because you are created in God’s image and God is love. You are on Earth to discover who you really are; the image and likeness of love, the image and likeness of God.”
  • Eighty years later what is the soul going to say? Then he will stand before God and his life will be examined. When did you comfort the grieving? When did you clothe the naked or visit the sick? When did you spend time with your wife and children? When did you notice the beauty of a sunset? When did you ever really listen to anyone who tried to talk to you? All he can say is “Never, Lord. I was too busy.”

 

The man in the parable today was a farmer. He was a successful farmer, which meant many years of long hours of work. He faced the challenges of insects, drought, storms, and frosts; in the long run he did well. Yet, he was not satisfied. As well as he did, it was possible to do better. So, he ordered his workers to build larger barns and silos. Before he could enjoy the wealth he was accumulating, he died.

 

In the Gospel reading Jesus doesn’t condemn material benefit. He is not saying the farmer was evil for working hard and building up a good living. What he is saying is that the man has his priorities upside down. Rather than learning the lesson of love, he had other things to do. Rather than spending time with his family, or smelling the flowers, or being of service to his community, the man could only focus on the battle to make a little more wealth. Rather than be their master, the farmer was a slave to his barns, silos and wealth.

 

The farmer is guilty of sin, a serious sin. He is guilty of idolatry.  It is not that he kneels before a sack of coins each night and prays to it, but he might as well be doing that or something similar. The most important thing in his life is money. He might claim that his wife and children are more important or that his relationship with God is more important. However, if you examine how he spent all of the moments of his life the truth is obvious. Money is more important than family or friends, enjoying the little pleasures of life, money is more important to him than God. If money is more important than God to the man, then money is his God; for it takes the place of God in his life. That is idolatry and the first sin against the 10 Commandments.

 

Most of us know that there are more important values in life than making money. In our personal lives we usually respect those values. In our professional lives however it becomes much harder because the bottom line holds sway and the bottom line does not always follow what is moral or good.

  • If I am a mechanic, I am challenged to report only what really needs to be fixed and if I am given the go-ahead, then to repair it honestly.
  • If I am a lawyer, I am challenged to report my billable hours accurately and not pad them to make a few extra dollars, or not to overcharge for basic office expenses that should be covered as part of the basic expense covered in the billable hours.
  • If I am a physician, I am challenged not to become a pill pusher for drug companies or a cog in the wheel of some health services corporation.
  • If I am a banker or businessperson, I am challenged to keep my credit policies honest and my interest rates just. I am not running a shell game where I advertise one rate to hook customers and then for almost any reason switch the interest rate to one that is predatory and immorally high.
  • If I am a politician, I am challenged to always make decisions in light of the common good, rather than special interests.

 

In the face of this mad rush for the dollar,

  • we hear the voice of Qoheleth saying that its all vanity!
  • We hear Jesus calling the farmer blinded by his love of money a fool.
    • Every moment of his life was given over to making money.
    • Every thought was occupied with threats to his money or how he was going to protect it.
    • He is a fool because he will die and his money gone.
    • While he may have had a large bank account by every measure that has ultimate value the farmer was a fool and a miserable failure.

 

The readings today are a wake up call for all of us. It is so easy to have one set of values at Church at Sunday and a very different set of values on Monday at work or in school. Christ challenges us to be whole and holy.

If we profess belief in Christ and commitment to Gospel values, then we live that commitment and those values every minute of every day of our lives.

We keep our priorities straight. If God put us hear to learn how to love, then that must be our priority. That priority must be reflected in what we do and how we spend all of the moments of our lives.

 

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Also read A Course in Christian Spirituality by Deacon Shewman that is available through this link.

(c) 1997-2008. Richard Shewman. All stories, articles, reflections and other written material contained in this website are the creative fruit and property of Richard Shewman. All rights are reserved. The written material contained in this website may not be reproduced or published in any form, except for the individual and personal use of the reader, without the express consent of the author.