Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
Can anyone tell me what the most obeyed verse in the Bible is? Luke 12:19, is the most obeyed verse in the Bible. “Relax! Eat heartily, drink well. Enjoy yourself.” But what the Lord said to all who observe this. “You fool! This very night your life shall be required of you. To whom will all this piled-up wealth of yours go?” (Lk 12:20) ‘Are you rich?’ is not the question. The question is, ‘Are you rich in God?’ You might have heard this story before. There was a wealthy landowner who lived in the Scottish Highlands. He had a stately mansion overlooking a beautiful valley. But there was a basic emptiness in his life. He had no religious belief, he lived alone, possessed by his possessions.
In the gate lodge at the entrance to his estate lived John his farm manager. John was a man of simple faith and deep religious commitment. With his family John was a regular church-goer, the Lord’s presence was a reality in his home and often at night the landowner noticed John’s family on their knees in prayer.
One morning the landowner was looking out on the valley. As he gazed on the beautiful scene he was saying to himself, ‘It is all mine’ when he heard the doorbell ringing. Going down he found John on the door step. ‘What’s the matter John?’ he asked.’ John looked embarrassed. ‘Sir, could I have a word with you?’ ‘Sir,’ said John hesitantly, ‘last night I had a dream, and in it the Lord told me that the richest man in the valley would die tonight at midnight. I felt you should know’.
The landowner dismissed him, but John’s words kept bothering him, so much so that at eleven o’clock he took out his car and went to the local doctor for a complete check-up. The doctor examined him, pronounced him fit as a fiddle and said he’d give him another twenty years. The landowner went home and was relieved but a lingering doubt caused him to invite the doctor to his house. They enjoyed a meal together and shortly after 11.30pm the doctor got up to leave but the landowner prevailed on him to remain on.
Eventually when midnight passed and he was still in the land of the living he saw the doctor to the door and then went up the stairs muttering, ‘Silly old John…upset my whole day… him and his dreams!’ No sooner was he in bed when he heard the doorbell ringing. It was 12:30 am. Going down he found a grief-stricken girl at the door that he recognized instantly as John’s teenage daughter.
‘Sir,’ she said, looking at him through her tears, ‘Mammy sent me to tell you that Daddy died at midnight.’ The landowner froze as it was suddenly made clear to him who was the richest man in the valley. (Stories for Preachers pages 77-80 by James A. Feehan)
This comes as a shock to us who have been taught to base our lives on, and save our money for, entertainment, relaxation, and enjoyment. Why does Jesus call this wealthy landowner a fool? Jesus does not fault the rich man for his industriousness and skill in acquiring wealth, but rather for his egoism and selfishness – it’s mine, all mine, and no one else’s. This parable is similar to the parable of the rich man who refused to give any help to the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The rich fool had lost the capacity to be concerned for others. His life was consumed with his possessions and his only interests were in himself. His death was the final loss of his soul! Where is your treasure? Are you rich in God and Love? The reading today asks us to be rich in God. Our prayer every day should be what we prayed in the responsorial psalm.
“Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!”
God Bless You,