Jesus warns of the dangers of relying on riches in the Parable of the Rich Fool. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Generosity so he can reject materialism and be abundantly generous and by pushing the Virtue of Temperance so he can battle against gluttony and sloth.
18th Week in Ordinary time – Sunday – Cycle C – Lk 12:13-21; 29th Week in Ordinary time – Monday – Lk 12:13-21
Following His strong urging to recognize the reality of God and to put trust in the Holy Spirit, a man asks Jesus to help him get half of his brothers’ inheritance; it would be a reasonable request for a typical rabbi to rule upon, but is a demeaning question for the Son of God. Jesus bluntly rebukes the man for the insult, ironically saying “Who made Me judge” (ironically, Jesus has absolute dominion and is the Divine Judge); He then offers a parable to correct the man’s foolish focus on worldly things.
The Parable of the Rich Fool describes the selfish greed that consumes many men. The rich man is blessed with barn-bursting abundance from God’s gift of land, plants that mysteriously bear fruit, and the sun and rain. Blinded by selfishness, the rich man gives no thanks to God, nor does he share God’s bounty with the poor. Instead, the fool decides to tear down his barns, replace them with larger ones to hold crops and other possessions and to “retire” to gluttony and sloth. God calls the man a fool and informs him that he will die tonight and that all his “possessions” will belong to someone else.
Several things stand out in the Parable of the Rich Fool. God is aware of the details of every man’s life and when men’s lives will end. Everything, including a man’s very life, comes from God. God dislikes and rebukes foolish ingratitude and the selfishness of men. Men must choose to serve God or mammon and each man, whether he realizes it or not, will ultimately face God and his own eternal Judgment.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Soberly consider how Jesus, the perfection of Virtue, calls men to virtue in the parable: Divine Judge, Jesus Harshly Mocks and Condemns the Foolish Rich Man, calling him a “fool” (ignorant, stupid, lacking reason) and taking his life; the perfection of Generosity (a part of Justice) Jesus condemns the greed of the Rich Man; perfection of Prudence, Jesus ridicules the absurdity of the Rich Man’s imprudent plans (to tear down functioning barns); the perfection of Temperance, Jesus denounces the Rich Fool’s obsession with gluttony; the perfection of Diligence (a part of Justice), Jesus denounces the Rich Fool’s lack of holy purpose and work ethic.
Reject materialism and be generous
Realize: Many men are modern versions of The Rich Fool, exhausting their energy to obtain bigger houses, luxury cars, “man-toys”, extravagant vacations, and a big retirement nest-egg; taken in the extreme, these are grave sins against The 1st Commandment and The 10th Commandment.
Believe: Reflect upon the Idolatry of Mammon (CCC 2113, 2445, 2547) and The 10th Commandment (CCC 2534-2557).
Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Generosity (a part of Justice) so I reject envy, I moderate my foolish desires for material things, and I use the gifts You have given me to build Your Kingdom, especially by generously giving to the poor and to Your Holy Catholic Church.
Build temperance to battle gluttony and sloth
Realize: There is an epidemic of obesity in the modern world as men overeat and are lazy; Jesus mocks and condemns The Rich Fool’s gluttony and sloth (“take…ease, eat drink and make merry”).
Believe: Reflect upon the sinfulness of Gluttony and Sloth (CCC 1866, 2094).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Temperance, help me build the Virtue of Temperance so I can battle cravings by practicing fasting, overcome gluttony and drunkenness, enjoy moderate consumption of nutritious food and drink, and get regular exercise to maintain robust health so I can better serve You.