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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (July 31st)

Pastor's  Summary of  Luke 12:13-21

As v. 1 tells us, Jesus has drawn a large crowd; the Parable of the Rich Fool is a lesson for the disciples too (v. 22). As he often does, Jesus speaks to his disciples with others present.  The Mishnah, a Jewish book of laws, guided rabbis in how to handle questions of inheritance. (It must have been galling at times that Mosaic law prescribed that an elder son receive twice the inheritance of a younger.) Jesus wants no part in sorting out such issues: the word translated  "friend" (v. 14) literally means human, a stern salutation. Jesus explains: "all kinds of greed" (v. 15) have no place in anyone's life; true being (real and meaningful "life") is more than "possessions". Jesus' story of the farmer is particularly apt for a rural crowd. The farmer's land "yielded a good harvest" (v. 16, Revised Enmglish Bible). As the frequent use of "I" in vv. 17-19 shows, he thinks only of himself, of his material well-being. He fools himself into thinking that materiality satifies his inner being ("soul, v. 19). This example story  (unusual because God is a character) does not attack wealth per se, but rather amassing wealth solely for one's own enjoyment.  Purely selfish accuulation of wealth is incompatible with discipleship. God calls the farmer a "fool" (v. 20) for ignoring his relationship with him. Earthly riches are transient, but a time of reckoning is coming, when we will all be judged by God. This time may be when we die or at the end of time, or both. We must trust in God, leaving the future in his hands. Jesus makes his point by providing an absurd example: materialism can get in the way of godliness. (The crowd would recall that, in the Old Testament and in the Apocrypha, foolishness often has overtones of immorality, of deviating from God's ways.)