We keep learning more about the social and economic situation that Jesus knew in Galilee in 30 CE. While wealth was growing in Sepphoris and Tiberias, hunger and misery were increasing in the villages. Farmers ended up without land and the land owners built ever bigger silos and granaries.
In a short text preserved by Luke, Jesus reveals what he thinks of such a situation that is so opposed to the project God wants done, of a more human world for all. He doesn’t tell this parable just to denounce the abuses and violations committed by the land owners, but to unmask the foolishness they have enclosed themselves in.
A rich landowner finds himself surprised by a big harvest. He doesn’t know how to manage so much abundance. «What am I to do?». His monologue helps us discover the foolish logic of the powers-that-be who only live to hoard wealth and security, leaving the needy off their radar screen.
The rich man of the parable plans his life and makes decisions. He will tear down the old granaries and build even bigger ones. He will store all his harvest there. He can accumulate goods for many years to come. In the future he will only live in order to enjoy himself: «Take it easy, eat, drink, have a good time». In a totally unexpected way, God interrupts his projects: «Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?».
This man reduces his existence to enjoying the abundance of his goods. In the center of his life there is only himself and his wellbeing. God is absent. The day laborers who work his fields don’t exist. The village families who struggle against hunger don’t count. God’s judgment is resounding: this life is just stupidity and foolishness.
At the present time, in just about the whole world, inequality is growing in an alarming way. This is a fact that is all the more dark and inhumane: «The rich, above all the ones at the top, keep growing richer, while the poor, above all the ones at the bottom, keep growing poorer». (Zygmunt Bauman)
This fact isn’t normal. It is, simply, the latest consequence of the greatest foolishness we humans are committing: we displace friendly cooperation, solidarity and seeking the common good for Humanity, and instead we end up with competition, rivalry and the hoarding of goods in the hands of the most powerful people on the Planet.
From the point of view of the Church of Jesus, spread throughout the whole World, we ought to hear the outcry of his followers against such foolishness, and a reaction against the model that is guiding human history today. Just this is what Pope Francis is doing over and over.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf