[Dt. 8:7-18; Lk. 12:16-30]
Grace to you and peace. Amen.
What is a blessing?
Usually it’s a religious act, a religious sign, like the Sign of the Cross.
Wikipedia the All-knowing states,
In religion, a blessing is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, or divine will.
And we’ve been doing a lot of blessing here this Creationtide.
What is a blessing?
Isn’t it first and foremost to be present and to acknowledge the presence, the existence of the other, and then we add more existence, we bring life to them.
Even if a person isn’t actually in the room with us, we can still bless them, we acknowledge their existence, their be-ing and we bless them. The same is true when we pray for countries or churches or things or situations. We name these to acknowledge them and we bless them, we bring them existence.
Consider the ravens, consider the lilies of the field; God blesses them abundantly, and you are so much more. God will bless you to, God wants to bless you. The Creator in this way is an ongoing Creator and we are God’s ongoing Creation.
And this is why the man in our Gospel reading is so sorely mistaken: he’s under the impression that the abundance is his own responsibility, of his own making. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little ambition, but the man is storing up treasures for himself but isn’t rich towards God. He doesn’t acknowledge God’s role as Creator, as Father, as Provider, who knows what we need and when we need it, even if sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.
And when that happens, we might feel abandoned and we might be under the impression that it’s all up to us. But life is more than food and the body more than clothing. When we for example say grace before and/or after a meal, we are in fact reminding ourselves of these words of Jesus, even if we don’t use the actual quote.
In the Jewish tradition there are prayers that actually bless God: the blessed bless the Blesser with capital B, if you will. Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu, Melekh ha-olam... Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the universe...
Do we count our blessings?
Are we content, or does the drive to gather wealth distract us, does it mean that we’re missing the point? The rich man stored his crops in bigger barns, but he didn’t seem to give credit where credit is due. After all, “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand.”
What is it that we’re striving for when we gather all these material things: Luxury? Peace of mind? Do we do it just because we can?
“You fool!” God says. “This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”
Isn’t that harsh?
You can’t blame someone for working hard and setting some savings aside. After all, there was no pension scheme in those days or health insurance.
So Jesus’ parable at first glance does seem unfair. But he has just been asked to intervene in a dispute between two brothers over their inheritance. Jesus, however, hasn’t come to mediate in financial arguments or family squabbles, he has come to preach the Gospel of eternal life.
‘What are your priorities’, he’s asking his listeners.
And that’s exactly what a blessing does: it places priority on the person or group or thing that we’re blessing. And if blessings mean wishing life, existence, than we should make sure that our blessing is worth being a priority, because where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also.
Else, ambition becomes ruthless, cutthroat competition; desire becomes greed and envy; and passion becomes obsession. The human drive for possession then just means restlessness and disappointment. There’s more to life then material wealth. These are meaningless if we’re not rich towards God. Human nature then is no longer being, existing, but having and collecting. It’s no longer a blessing. Human life is then being used by things and situations and status which aren’t life-giving.
And life has been given to us, but it doesn’t belong to us. The very essence of be-ing and of not be-ing, death, which is part of the story, these were given to us by the Source, the great I AM. Everything is fleeting, but the essence remains. And that’s why God blesses us so we can bless others, so we can acknowledge their existence and add to it, so we can be present.