Monday, December 5, 2011

The Rich Fool

The Gospel of Luke tells of a parable Jesus spoke about the “Rich fool.” In the story, the man had a bountiful harvest, so much so that it was more than he could store, he decided the best thing to do would be to tear down his current storehouses and build bigger ones to hold all the abundance.  The man says to himself, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”[1]  Jesus tells that God considered him a “fool,” for after he died his great storehouses of grain would be worthless to him.

This man, by all modern standards, was a wise investor making a prudent business decision.   Similar to the advice any retirement specialist would tell a worker thinking about the future today, he was going to set his resources aside in the best financial portfolio of his day—large, secure storehouses to keep his wealth safe.  Translated to modern terms, he would be putting away all his cash into a well-managed, organized financial portfolio so her could relax, eat, drink, and be merry.  Translated into modern terms, “you fool” still means “you fool.” 

 Though he did not consider himself to be so, Jesus described him as a hoarder.  Despite his organization approach, despite his attempts to be make “prudent financial decisions,” he was simply a hoarder, he could not recognize when he had enough.  It seems to me, despite all that fancy terms and in-depth descriptions given today, all the modern avenues available to save one’s money equal to this man’s storehouses.   And despite what one may call it, “saving for a rainy day, for retirement, for the future…” when it comes right down to it is simply hoarding.  Because what did Jesus suggest later in that chapter as the proper way to live? “Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”[2] That does not sound like a Roth-IRA to me. 

[1] Luke 12:19 NRSV.
[2] Luke 12:33-34 NRSV

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