“…one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
In our little corner of the world, celebrations of harvests take place roughly this time of year. Even if most in industrialized nations don’t live directly off the land, our celebrations of thanksgiving help us relate to today’s Gospel passage: both Jesus’ interaction with the jealous brother, and His parable to the crowd.
Consider the parable. It illustrates Jesus’ previous explanation of the relationships among “one’s life”, “greed”, and “possessions”. Material possessions are not inherently bad. Even those with religious vows of poverty possess their “own” clothing, even if they do not “own” them. But possessions always tempt one—through the vice of greed—to more possessions, either in quantity, quality, or even mere novelty.
The rich farmer in Jesus’ parable is the antithesis to Ecclesiastes’ Qoheleth. The rich farmer cries out to himself, “rest, eat, drink, be merry!” This is in contrast to the king of Israel who confesses that “I said in my heart, ‘Come, now, let me try you with pleasure and the enjoyment of good things.’ See, this too was vanity.” While the rich farmer has not the wisdom of Qoheleth, even Qoheleth in Old Testament times did not know Christ, the one who possesses all the riches of the Father’s love.