In the parable of the Rich Man/Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21) Jesus tells of the man who tears down his barns to build bigger ones. This sounds quite a bit like our days. Many cities and towns across our country are experiencing massive homes being built and older homes being torn down in favor of huge new ones. In addition to homes, witness the numerous Walmarts, Targets, Costcos, Home Depots, supermarkets and fitness clubs (ironically) being raised to resemble airports.
But that's not all. Although there is some backlash lately, watch out for all those Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) on the road that seem to be getting bigger and bigger, and faster and faster. These vehicles are accommodating children and adults who are bigger than in previous generations. Mc Donald's may have done away with their "Super-Size" option, but Americans have not.
Even so, it may not be the desire for more crops and bigger barns that are the rich man's undoing. When it is all over and done with, God asks him one simple question - "Fool, this night your soul is required of you, and all these things you have prepared, whose shall they be?" It is not the abundant crops and big barns that condemn the rich man, it is that they are not being shared and passed on to others. Being rich is not a sin, being selfish is. It can be argued that we have an obligation to maximize the fruits of the earth so that we may feed and provide for our children and for others. Working hard to provide for others is a virtue sometimes lost on a generation wishing to accumulate more cars, houses, jewelry and toys.
Everything we have built, earned or amassed has come from God, and is a blessing. If we think everything we have has come from our own efforts, our possessions will be a curse. Sharing God's blessings is not only one of our obligations, it is one of the greatest joys in life. Not enough people today experience this joy.
There is nothing wrong with wealth, as long as God is thanked and glorified, and the wealth is shared. There is nothing wrong with big homes, as long as they are filled with children and family members, and God is at the center of the home. There is nothing wrong with amassing crops and goods, as long as they are used to feed and provide for God's children.
We are brothers and sisters in communion with each other. All that we have is from God, and intended to be shared with each other. The difference between a Philanthropist and a Rich Fool is the desire to share, and the desire to do for others and not for oneself.
Fr. Angelo Artemas