The Parable of the Rich Fool Homily 19th Sunday C 7/31/16
In these trying or more fearful times of the world, insurance companies are trying to make more business of it. You’ve seen all the ads. Now, to buy insurance these days for your assurance of peace of mind and protection, one does need to be sure you are covered for the kind of threats possibly coming your way. ‘Say, like, if you live on a Chesapeake or Potomac waterfront property and place, then some substantial flooding coverage for your property and home should be in your policy and agreement with the insurance or government agency. ‘Right?
But you won’t necessarily need volcanic lava coverage here in Maryland, now will you?! If you are looking to buy lava coverage, then I know of an agent named Mr. Desoto of the Hawaiian Insurance Agency who would like to sell it to you. Insurance companies love to make money on taking money to cover threats that likely will not occur.
In this Gospel today, the Agent Who has come from Heaven is present and interested in helping people out of their worst peril. He is Jesus and the peril is everlasting death. It is a threat on every man, woman and child. What kind of coverage is there from death and eternal separation? Only one. It’s in God’s Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.
As one famous insurance ad boasts, like a good neighbor… Jesus is there.
And, compared to another insurance ad, He is not just interested in saving you 15%, rather, He is going for 100% in saving you.
Do you recall the Sunday gospels of this July? They have been saying that God wants to be our very good neighbor (i.e. Mary and Martha learn to draw close to Jesus, but a rich man here in today’s story and a self-justified man in last weeks won’t see their total need for God and salvation). Indeed, as Jesus is seeing, there aren’t many ‘buyers’ for His plan. But Jesus is come from Heaven to be our life and super-essence, our re-creation by His Mercy and ongoing help. Last week we examined the word in the Our Father prayer as epiousios, as by Jesus we ask the Father for His supply of life, of His Son in us today. THIS IS THE INSURANCE PLAN OFFERING OF GOD. The Lord is our Rock for all things lasting, even if the Prudential Rock might be your earthly one for earthly matters.
Jesus comments about the serious nature of this offer, so don’t let my joking on insurance advertising connections mislead you. Jesus is clear and direct of the need of humankind to turn to trust in God, and not “self”, as by telling this parable about a rich fool living as if he had no need for any kind of Godly assistance. That well-off man only lived for the moment and took care of things just for himself, storing up, even hoarding up, what he felt was ‘his insurance policy.’ But the man wasn’t covered for death and judgment, and it came calling that very night for him, and he’d lose all his possessions with his last breath. Whoa!
Indeed, there were the plenty of people back then 2000 years ago (as it is true of folks today) who did NOT (or do NOT) see a need for what Jesus has come to cover for them. They saw (or see) NOT themselves as sinners desperate for a Savior AND for a kingdom-of-God transfer within them of their daily lives. Nor did they get how JESUS is come as God’s Agent there in person for them. Like those insurance agents in commercials who just magically appear to people in need, Jesus was on the scene here in Luke 12, as He is still on the scene. Jesus has said, “I AM always working.”
Usually the catastrophic claims evaluator comes AFTER the tragic event in insurance stories, yet here was Jesus coming much before it. He says to us in this Gospel lesson that we humans have a peril to face, and He can point it out and save us from it before it happens, if we’ll humble ourselves and honor HIM by choosing His help. Last Sunday, you’ll recall, Jesus said HE was our Daily Bread and the One helping us and our side to save us when we get tempted by sin and are fighting to be delivered versus evil.
If Nationwide insurance boasts of being “on our side,” how much more eternally is Our Lord Jesus, worldwide for His people?
He the Son of God and Lord-in-the-flesh will help us with Divine Mercy coverage for all our sins and for the resulting consequence of all our sins, which is eternal death, met after our human condition expires.
He is very acquainted with all our threats and problems and pains, so much more than, like, Farmer’s Insurance, who say “they’ve seen a thing or two.” But God’s Son has seen it all! He has the Spirit on His Side, too, to respond to every situation, body and soul.
How do we get covered for sins and death? Well! As we are remembering throughout this Year of mercy, Jesus said it is absorbed by His Cross and in His saving Sacrifice. We can all be returned prodigals into His care. We can be baptized and be put into this coverage, and be taught to abide along in it. We can participate in it by The Blessed Eucharist. We can receive the Super-Essence Bread of Life help daily. We can even then equipped to be His Mercy helpers ourselves for God. For Jesus says, as you receive, so freely give. As we get Mercy, we are to pass it on, too.
To be an agent or disciple of Mercy, Jesus asks us to do three things: to “deny our very self, take up the Cross and Christ’ Sacrifice, and to follow Him in His Way.” And as a Christian song puts the mystery in its message: “We can choose to die before we die.” That’s really our death coverage.
We can die to self–that is, to the self-saving self, so as then to live into a new life under the Savior Jesus, becoming born again into God’s reign daily. What happens by this self-surrender is that we are begun into our eternal relationship with God now, so that, when death comes, it is just only a physical one, but our essence and soul will have already passed into a new existence, as a new creation in Christ Jesus. That is all in the coverage Jesus offers to humanity. New hearts, new lives for old! It’s a great plan of God for us!!
Are we prepared into it? That’s a question posed between the lines in the Word today, as the opening Ecclesiastes reading of this morning is a cry out from Qoheleth to watch out for being swallowed up in vain pursuits. The wise author rather calls us wisely to invest and insure ourselves well for the Big Picture and God’s plan of humankind’s deliverance.
As Luke tells the story of Jesus in his 11th and 12th gospel chapters, Jesus was teaching the people that death was the ultimate stormy threat that few were prepared for–but He shows how we ought to be prepared. In the parable about a foolish rich man, Jesus says that when it came down to it, all the many filled silos of grain that the boastful, ‘insured-man-for-the-future’ put up would be of no help when death came suddenly knocking. His soul was NOT prepared for that to happen. And why not? The Wisdom Scripture today answers it–that there is folly of amassing fortunes at the expense of one’s soul. Yet, we should pray the petitions of The Lord’s Prayer and turn to a more meaningful life. We invest ourselves either in God or mammon (things of this world), as Jesus lays it out squarely in the Sermon on the Mount. He advised Martha and Mary, too, to seek the better portion of a close relationship with Him, as we live on earth. All these Summer Gospels are linked, aren’t they?
Just to get serious again, let us hear Jesus’ words, that what yields for power in this world, like grain or gold or silver or a fat bank account or an influential name, may al be diddlysquat once we face death and the afterlife. Jesus is quite abrupt and dramatic in the parable, noting how the rich fool is told by God in the story: “This very night your life will be demanded from you.” The Greek New Testament word for your life is “psyche” meaning one’s “life” or “soul.” Jesus explains the situation: ‘Your life is demanded’ means that you will die, maybe more suddenly than you expect, and your soul life is then required to meet God, to render an account. Your deep true self is to meet God, with no hiding, but just your very self. You bring no thing with you. The Hebrew New Testament equivalent word here for your life (as in “your life will be demanded of you) is “nefesh.” This unique word by Jesus, as taken from the Hebrew translation, means one’s very “life force” is to be leave you and be headed ultimately somewhere. “Nefesh” is the same exact warning word used by the Lord in Exodus 31:17 to the foolish Exodus people. In that account, they were worshipping the golden calf, rather than Him, the Lord Who had just delivered them out of bondage in Egypt, and Who was appearing still to Moses. These fool pilgrims were caught by God to be already led by greed, not to faith. The gold they brought along was more precious to them that the faith through suffering they had built up in the past. Faith was discarded; possessions were now the value. The pilgrim people were supposed to be people filled with faith. However, the Lord observes that greed can be a pilgrimage killer. One can die in the desert of their things, with no way to be refreshed to get up and complete the journey Home. The Hebrew word nefesh in this parable (a rarely used word, purposely picked out by Jesus) also implies that He is the updated and greater Deliverer figure for the pilgrimage from earth’s desert to God’s paradise, and He alone can give that new life and refreshment within us for the Way Home.
So let’s sum it up: Our Agent Jesus is giving us lots of help that we may get this Divine Mercy coverage through and through by Him and into us. Don’t be envious of the worldly rich, for the needed thing is to be close to God, and that is to be rich. And God has given us all assurance and insurance and protection for living a Kingdom Come life, and we’re in good hands with Him, which is much better than AllState. And, You may be with Farmer’s Insurance in the world, but on higher matters of trust, make that all be in Divine Mercy Insurance with Jesus. Bum da da bum dah dah dum dum dum!