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Luke 12:16-21

Patristic Commentary

12:16-20 The Parable of the Rich Fool

SURROUNDED BY WEALTH, BLIND TO CHARITY. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA: What does the rich man do, surrounded by a great supply of many blessings beyond all numbering? In distress and anxiety, he speaks the words of poverty. He says, "What should I do?"... He does not look to the future. He does not raise his eyes to God. He does not count it worth his while to gain for the mind those treasures that are above in heaven. He does not cherish love for the poor or desire the esteem it gains. He does not sympathize with suffering. It gives him no pain nor awakens his pity. Still more irrational, he settles for himself the length of his life, as if he would also reap this from the ground. He says, "I will say to myself, 'Self, you have goods laid up for many years. Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.'" "O rich man," one may say, 'You have storehouses for your fruits, but where will you receive your many years? By the decree of God, your life is shortened.'"

"God," it tells us, "said to him, 'You fool, this night they will require of you your soul. Whose will these things be that you have prepared?'" COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 89,

THE BELLIES OF THE POOR ARE SAFER STOREHOUSES THAN OUR BARNS. AUGUSTINE: "The redemption of a man's soul is his riches." This silly fool of a man did not have that kind of riches. Obviously he was not redeeming his soul by giving relief to the poor. He was hoarding perishable crops, I repeat, he was hoarding perishable crops, while he was on the point of perishing because he had handed out nothing to the Lord before whom he was due to appear. How will he know where to look, when at that trial he starts hearing the words "I was hungry and you did not give me to eat"? He was planning to fill his soul with excessive and unnecessary feasting and was proudly disregarding all those empty bellies of the poor. He did not realize that the bellies of the poor were much safer storerooms than his barns. What he was stowing away in those barns was perhaps even then being stolen away by thieves. But if he stowed it away in the bellies of the poor, it would of course be digested on earth, but in heaven it would be kept all the more safely. The redemption of a man's soul is his riches. SERMON 36.9,"

THE HABIT OF GOOD WORKS. LEO THE GREAT: The devil, even in the midst of our efforts, does not relax his schemes. At certain periods of time, we must take care of the re-energizing of our strength. The mind, concerned with the goods of the present, can rejoice in the temperate weather and the fertile fields. When the fruits are gathered into great barns, it can say to its soul, "You have many good things; eat." It may receive a kind of rebuke from the divine voice and may hear it saying, "Fool, this very night they demand your soul from you. The things you have prepared, whose will they be?"

This should be the careful consideration of wise people, that since the days of this life are short and the time uncertain, death should never be unexpected for those who are to die. Those who know that they are mortal should not come to an unprepared end. SERMON 90.4.1.

THE COMPANIONS OF THE DEAD. AMBROSE: He uselessly accumulates wealth when he does not know how he will use it. He is like him who, when his full barns were bursting from the new harvest, prepared storehouses for his abundant fruits, not knowing for whom he gathered them. The things that are of the world remain in the world, and whatever riches we gather are bequeathed to our heirs. The things that we cannot take away with us are not ours either. Only virtue is the companion of the dead. Compassion alone follows us. It is the guide to the heavens and the first of the mansions. Through the use of worthless money, it acquires eternal dwellings for the dead. The Lord's commands testify when he says, "Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations." EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE, HOMILY 7.122.

12:21 The Second Principle: One Who Is Not Rich Toward God Is Such a Fool:

To BE RICH TOWARD GOD. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA: It is true chat a person's life is not from one's possessions or because of having an overabundance. He who is rich toward God is very blessed and has glorious hope. Who is he? Evidently, one who does not love wealth but rather loves virtue, and to whom few things are sufficient. It is one whose hand is open to the needs of the poor, comforting the sorrows of those in poverty according to his means and the utmost of his power. He gathers in the storehouses that are above and lays up treasures in heaven. Such a one shall find the interest of his virtue and the reward of his right and blameless life. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 89.



Luke 12:16-21 
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