Jesus' counsel in today's passage could have been written specifically to address the attitudes and excesses of contemporary American society. In the parable of the rich fool, we hear of a man consumed by his own material goods, one who finds security in wealth, and a soul who thinks of little beyond the present moment. How perfectly--and how sadly--this reflects the bulk of those around us today! Were Jesus to walk the earth now as he did two thousand years ago, this parable would require no updating at all. In spite of all our 'progress,' however, we still have not found a worldly cure for anxiety and worry. We still try to assuage our fears by the amount of wealth we amass. We still try to quiet our nervous minds by the size of our homes and our bank accounts. True security is now found here, and in the quiet recesses of our souls where we fear often to tread, we are fully aware of this truth.
We would do much better to fill up the poor instead of filling up our 401Ks. As St. Augustine observed, "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" (Augustine, Sermon 36). Woe to us for learning nothing from the rich fool. May our eyes be opened to fill the hands of those around us before filling our own earthly coffers!