Lectio Divina: Luke 12:13-21
1) Opening prayer
Almighty and everlasting God,
our source of power and inspiration,
give us strength and joy
in serving you as followers of Christ,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 12: 13-21
A man in the crowd said to him, 'Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.' He said to him, 'My friend, who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?' Then He said to them, 'Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when someone has more than he needs.'
Then He told them a parable, 'There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, "What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops." Then he said, "This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time." But God said to him, "Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?" So it is when someone stores up treasure for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God.'
● The episode in today’s gospel is found only in the Gospel of Luke and does not have a parallel in the other Gospels. It forms part of the long description of Jesus’ trip from Galilee to Jerusalem (Lk 9: 51 to 19: 28) in which Luke places most of the information which he collected concerning Jesus which is not found in the other three Gospels (cf. Lk 1: 2-3). The gospel today gives the response of Jesus to the person who asked Him to be the mediator in the distribution of an inheritance.
● Luke 12: 13: A request to distribute an inheritance. “One from the crowd told Jesus: Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance”. Up until today, the distribution of an inheritance among the living relatives is always a delicate question and, many times, it is the occasion of disputes and of tensions without end. At that time, the inheritance also had something to do with the identity of the person (1 K 21: 1-3) and with survival (Num 27:1-11; 36:1-12). The greatest problem was the distribution of the land among the sons of the deceased father. If the family was numerous, there was a danger that the inheritance would be divided into small pieces of land which would not have guaranteed survival of all. For this reason, in order to avoid the breaking up or disintegration of the inheritance and to carry on the name of the family, the firstborn or eldest received double of what the other sons received (Dt 21:17. cf. 2Rs 2: 11).
● Luke 12: 14-15: Response of Jesus: attention to greed, to cupidity. “Jesus answers: My friend, who appointed me your judge or the arbitrator of your claims?” In the response of Jesus appears the knowledge which He has of His mission. Jesus does not feel sent by God to respond to the request to be arbitrator between the relatives who argue or quarrel among themselves concerning the distribution of the inheritance. But the request of this man leads Him to the mission to orientate persons, because “Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when someone has more than he needs”. It was part of his mission to clarify the sense of life. The value of life does not consist in having many things, but rather in being rich for God (Lk 12: 21). Because when gain occupies the heart, it does not know how to distribute the inheritance in an equitable way and with peace.
● Luke 12: 16-19: The parable that makes one think on the sense of life. Then Jesus told a parable to help persons to reflect on the sense of life: “There was a rich man who having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself: What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops”. The rich man was very obsessed by the concern of his goods which had increased in an unforeseen way because of an abundant harvest. He thinks only of accumulating in order to guarantee a life without worries. He says: This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them and I will say to my soul: My soul, now you have plenty of good things laid for many years to come, take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time”.
● Luke 12: 20: The first conclusion of the parable. “But God said to him: ‘Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul, and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” So it is when someone stores up treasures for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God”. Death is an important key to discovering the true sense of life. It makes all things relative, because it shows what perishes and what remains. Anyone who only seeks to have, and forgets to be, loses everything at the hour of death. Here we have a thought which appears very frequently in the books of wisdom: Why accumulate great quantities of goods in this life if you do not know what will become of themand if you do not know what the heirs will do with what you will leave them. (Qo 2: 12.18-19. 21).
● Luke 12: 21: second conclusion of the parable. “So it is with someone who stores up treasures for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God”. How can one become rich for God? Jesus gives several suggestions and advice: Anyone who wants to be first, let him be last (Mt 20: 27; Mk 9: 35; 10: 44); it is better to give than to receive (Ac 20: 35); the greatest is the smallest (Mt 18: 4; 23: 11; Lk 9: 48) he/she who loses his/her life will save it (Mt 10: 39; 16: 25; Mk 8: 35; Lk 9: 24).
4) Personal questions
● The man asked Jesus to help Him in the distribution of his inheritance. And you, what do you ask Jesus in your prayer?
● Consumerism creates needs and awakens in us the desire of gaining. What do you do so as not to be a victim of gain brought about by consumerism?
5) Concluding prayer
Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,
serve Yahweh with gladness,
come into his presence with songs of joy! (Ps 100: 1-2)