Bigger barns – 5 August 2019
It is a winter evening, snow is on the ground, and there are stars in the sky. There is a huge barn, a building that has been extended more than once. Inside will be the accumulated wealth of its owner; the harvested crops and farm machinery. It stands in the field like a great cathedral – solid and secure. Although it is clear that the building and then filling of this barn would have taken considerable effort, there is no person to be seen.
In the gospel set for Sunday 4 August, Jesus told a parable about a farmer who became very wealthy, whose crop was so abundant that he decided to build bigger barns to save it all for his own benefit, only to have his life come to an end that same night. The farmer did not benefit from his accumulated harvest and wealth. Is this then a picture that brings reassurance or a challenge – what is it saying about the storing up of wealth?
This picture, ‘Barn on a winter night’, is by the Pennsylvanian artist George William Sotter (1879-1953), painted for Revd and Mrs DeChant.
Then Jesus told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
“The property of the wealthy holds them in chains . . . which shackle their courage and choke their faith and hamper their judgment and throttle their souls. They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves.”
Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.
Francis of Assisi