We admire those who are able to save well, who amass a healthy 401(k) and other assets for a long and comfortable retirement. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that there may be other important priorities that need to be considered.
Jesus told a parable about a rich man whose lands produced good crops, so much that he had to build bigger barns to store it all, and he thought he had enough to sit back, relax, and enjoy life. That night, his life ended and all that he had worked for was of no use. (Click here to read the lesson.)
Let me state immediately that I do not believe this means that there is no proper role for saving and judicious planning. Jesus’ condemnation appears to be twofold. First, the effort to simply amass wealth for one’s own comfort and ease is quite suspect. The Scripture is clear over and over that the purpose of wealth is to take care of oneself, family, the household of God and the needy. All are important.
Did you ever notice that there is no mention of retirement in the Bible? Surely, there may be different seasons in our lives, but, for the Christian, there is no place for simply sitting – to “eat, drink and be merry” – and accomplishing nothing. The call to love and serve as best we are able is life long even though it may take different forms.
Secondly, there is an assumption that we should put our resources to use in service of others even now. It is not easy to know the balance between serving others and prudent planning, but we are to struggle with it, to pray over it, and, ultimately, to give it all over to God.
The answer is not easy. It is not a simple formula to just give everything away every day. It means to pray and wrestle with how we balance the call to give and the need to be prudent. But, I daresay, most of us need to tilt more in the giving direction.
This column appeared in the July 31, 2022 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.