A parable about greed

Luke 12:16-21 is a parable about greed.

The rich farmer is a fool. He lives completely for himself alone, he talks to himself, he plans for himself alone, and he congratulates himself. His sudden death proves him to have lived as a fool. How different is this rich farmer’s soliloquy from the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus tells us in the prayer how to ask God, “give us this day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). How different is that prayer from the rich fool’s speech.

Let’s pause and think about the “daily bread” petition in the Lord’s Prayer as an invitation to examine the significance of our possessions, to claim them as God’s gifts, but also to see them as gifts that entail responsibilities. The Greek word epiousion “daily” means not only bread for the current day to sustain life, but also our “essential bread” that alerts us to the eternal presence of God.

Daily we are dependent on God. Greed threatens the flow of exchange that is the dynamic of existence, of life, or creation. The rich farmer’s problem is not wealth. He is a fool  because he thinks his life is made absolutely secure by building up accumulated possessions. Greed blocks him from knowing God’s abundant grace as a dependent creature in whose service is his perfect freedom.

Every time we celebrate Holy Communion we come to grips with the reality of our “daily bread” that is too much for words. Our faith is not a mere matter of noble ideas and spiritual inclinations. Our faith does its business in bread and the fruit of the vine. God transforms all our lives, even the most earthy and ordinary of our lives, into signs of the divine presence.

This not only out of a family of faith who believes in God, but equally so because God believes in us. If people want to know what those within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) believe about God, we can point to the Communion Table, the bread and juice, the cross all become expressions of the way God intruded upon the world, claiming it as its own.

The “daily bread” petition in the Lord’s Prayer and the communion bread remind us that bread is a communal product and a corporate responsibility. Nothing which belongs to us is ours alone.

-Rev. Colby