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A message for the week starting on Sunday 31 July 2022

Lectionary Week: 8th Sunday of Pentecost

Prescribed Texts: Hosea 11:1-11, Psalm 107:1-9, 43, Colossians 3:1-11, Luke 12:13-21

What Do We Value in Life?

Focus Text: Luke 12: 13-21

This parable challenges us to think about our relationship with our possessions. Yes, it is indeed possible to concentrate on wealth in God, but not without addressing the attachment we have to our material well-being. As Christians we tend to separate the material and the “spiritual”, because it is easier than addressing our need to have; our tendency to be greedy. And greediness can distance one from God, because it takes away our focus from that which really matters.

In this passage Jesus wants to bring this message home to us through the parable of the rich fool. Greed means wanting more than I already have. This is also the problem over which the brothers argue in Luke 12:13. They want Jesus to give a verdict on the topic of inheritance. However, He knows what is behind the question: greed and avarice, and in God’s Kingdom there is no place for this attitude.

Poverty was a problem in Luke’s community. Luke’s extensive emphasis on poverty (1:53; 4:18; 6:20-21; 7:22) and charity towards the poor (14: 13,21; 16:19-30; 18:22; 21:3) gives us a lens through which we can read this parable. The rich and poor resided within Luke’s community and Luke wanted to call on the rich to share with the poor (3:11) and not to focus on growing their collection of wealth. Richer Christians began to become entangled in an arrogant, materialistic and a here-and-now existence. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Even though the world has since become a kind of ‘global village’ in which people are closer to each other than ever before, it seems that the gap between rich and poor is only getting bigger. Despite the attention given to poverty in the media, the underprivileged of the world still remain poor. They still live the lonely and desperate life in which they wonder where today’s food will come from and where they will sleep sheltered tonight.

Terrorism, wars, poor medical services, joblessness, lack of good education, etcetera, sometimes keep people down. The question in this situation is of course, how the lifestyle of Christians can contribute to alleviating the need in the world?

It can happen that the need of the world can overwhelm you so much that you feel that your contribution is so small, that you would rather do nothing. But we can make a difference to the need around us. We can, as Jesus is presented in Luke’s Gospel as the one who is involved in the comprehensive need of the world, also be broadly involved with people. We can care for them on religious, emotional, material, social and other levels. Luther said that people need two conversions: one of the heart, and one of the wallet.

To think about: Augustine said, “Receive what God gives you with joy. Use what you need. The rest is needed by your loved ones. Maybe we can rebuild Jerusalem this way!”

When thinking about this quote, how can you get involved and support people living with HIV? What did you receive from God? What can you can share?

Written by: Rev. Annelet Slazus, trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator, and Dutch Reformed Church Minister