Midweek Faith Lift
September 7, 2022
“The Parable of the Rich Fool”
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
August 18, 2022
Players from the Green Bay Packers made a little girl’s tea party a thing to remember. As the athletes were heading to practice, young Aria Rubens lifted her empty pink teacup to each, asking, “Would you like some tea?” Each player gulped down a pretend sip and thanked her. One player said, “You make the best tea!” Aria’s mom, Ashley, loved the moment. “It’s crazy how people just want a good story about people being kind to each other.”
“One of the ideas in Zen Buddhism is that humans are essentially Buddhas, but they get distracted from their true nature. When we take a closer look at ourselves, we can expect to find a loving-kindness already there waiting to be invoked, and that it remains with us wherever we go.” – Edward Viljoen, Ordinary Goodness
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, I align with the natural order of a spiritual Universe. By kindness, empathy, and a generous heart, I open avenues through which love can flow. I am blessed, and I am a blessing. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
I love the image of the Green Bay Packers in full gear practice participating enthusiastically in this little girl’s tea party. She was a “junior cheerleader” on the sidelines, and offered them “tea” when they walked past her. Each one of the players stopped to “drink” some tea! Talk about sharing from one’s abundance! Our parable today is about the Law of Confidence and the Law of Circulation. These are spiritual laws, which are more like the “laws” of the Universe. They are always in effect even when we are not aware of them, much like gravity! It is to our benefit to clearly understand the complexities of spiritual laws so we can work with them rather than be frustrated by them.
The Parable of the Rich Fool is found in Luke 12:13-21
Parable of the Rich Fool
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 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. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 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?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (NRSV-UE)
There are several significant things to note in the story. The first is that Jesus refuses to get involved in disputes of inheritance and then warns about greed. This is such a powerful message that asking God to take “sides” in disputes, conflicts and contests is not a worthy ask! Then comes a powerful statement that our life is not about an abundance of possessions. In reality our possessions can come to own us. Here is a rich man who has been blessed with abundant crops and he has no place to store them! Rather than share them or give them away, he just plans to build more storage and essentially hoard them. And he tells his Soul to eat, drink and be merry…party on! Rather than gratitude, generosity and humility, this guy fails to appreciate God as Source.
Jesus does not miss that however! Clearly, the well-being of our Soul is not connected to our material wealth and God says to this wealthy, misguided man—“You fool!” That is a pretty strong message for someone who clearly missed the mark. The powerful message in this story is that counting primarily on our material wealth to see us through times of trouble is futile and a dead end. If the Pandemic taught us anything, it taught us that for sure! One of the most powerful lessons of the past two years is how much being together with one another, and praying together really matters to us! Our souls are nurtured when we connect and care for one another and give freely to one another from our hearts and the abundant love of the Universe. Much like the Packers and little Aria, right?
I talked about last week, about seeking and finding my new house post bankruptcy and the support of my new Unity and12-Step friends during my moving process, which illustrates this point. I remember naively thinking that now I “had” these spiritual tools of recovery, so life would be forever “good and wonderful.” As I said, I was quite naïve and new to Unity. The truth is in the spiritual Law of Confidence! I could be confident of these spiritual principles embodied in the 12-steps and Unity teachings to see me through life’s ongoing challenges; the challenges don’t go away. Clearly I needed to continue to learn and practice these principles in all aspects of my life. Letting go of fear, of hoarding for a “rainy day” and learning what faith was really all about was all part of my process of becoming “rich toward God,” and practicing the “Law of Confidence.”
Later in this same chapter of Luke, Jesus illustrates in another story the Law of Circulation, which is the antithesis of worry and hoarding and holding back forgiveness and hanging on to grudges. This one was harder for me to grasp, especially with respect to relationships. Let’s take a look at what Jesus says here in Luke 12:22-31
Do Not Worry
22 He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to your span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, you of little faith! 29 And do not keep seeking what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that seek all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
There you have it, direct from the teaching of Jesus—“Don’t worry!” Can we do that? Even when Jesus tells us that when we worry we cannot add a single hour to the span of our life! We can’t add to the quality of our life, either, can we? And yet we worry, what about that? Well, it seems to me that worry is a form of trying to stay in control, be in control or take control! There are folks who believe that if something bad happens, it is because they did not worry enough about it ahead of time. I used to believe that! How’s that for the payoff for negative thinking?? How about prayer beads instead? Don’t worry, pray!
We have all heard the passage about the lilies of the field and the ravens all being clothed with beauty and fed abundantly. We have heard in the teachings of Jesus how we are valued more that the birds and the flowers, but my goodness do we have a hard time believing that. We are so very attached to our capacity to create what we believe is our own good and not feel dependent on others, on God or anything else to provide for us. And the more we can provide, the better we feel about ourselves, right? We get sucked right up into that story of the rich fool so quickly.
I confess readily that I enjoy shopping for clothes and putting outfits together; it is a kind of “play” for me- especially when it’s “on sale.” I remember when I had no money as a student and right after bankruptcy, I couldn’t shop! Except for groceries! I have to humbly admit that I really missed it and had to pause and take an honest look at myself. And I started “shopping” in my own closet, putting things together in different ways, kind of like transplanting the lilies, right?! I found a new way to play!
Most of us have enough “stuff” and plenty of food, so we have no need to hoard and can readily put into circulation any excess that we have. The essential energy of the spiritual Law of Circulation is to put into the flow all that we might need to affirm our good and that there is an abundance of plenty. The most important part of this is to give even when you feel that you are in need. That is the crux of the Law of Circulation. I will confess when I first went to Unity of Des Moines, I did not tithe because I had a lack consciousness, a worry about scarcity, so I put my $5.00-$10.00 per week into the bag. Somewhere along the line, as my consciousness widened and deepened, I began to tithe not really expecting much to change.
But things did change significantly, within and without, for me. When I stopped hoarding money, I then looked at what else I was hoarding. The grudges and hurt feelings, a sense of unfairness and anger, and the relationships healed and a more loving, positive energy flowed between me, and my loved ones. We can hold on to hurt and worry, or we can walk in faith, seeking first a consciousness of love, the “kingdom” of God, and then all else is added unto us. I’ll take that road, it is much more lovely!
Blessings on the Path,