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Luke 12: 16-21

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Brothers and Sisters,

This is Prophet Obadiah day! He is called “Abdias” in Latin, and “Abdios” in the Greek Septuagint. The Book of the prophecy of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, having only 21 verses. The name “Obadiah” means, literally, the “servant of God.” Same as “Theodoulos” in Greek. And servant of God he was! He was a prophet who lived in the 9th Century B.C., and was a defender and a disciple of the prophet Elias (Elijah). We know very little about his life, other than he opposed the wicked King Ahab, and Ahab’s even more wicked wife, Jezebel. According to the testimony of the Bible,

“When Ahab’s wife, the impious and dissolute Jezebel, hunted down all the prophets of the Lord (because of her quarrel with the Prophet Elias), it was Obadiah that saved and hid 100 of the Lord’s prophets in caves, fifty to a cave. There he fed them and took care of them. gave them shelter and food (3/1 Kgs 18:3 ff).” Obadiah is known for his extreme generosity, his steadfastness of faith, and his humility. He had no patience for the proud, the haughty, the powerful, and the arrogant of his day. He is an example to us of a virtuous man. And remembering especially his generous heart, I move on to the main text for today.

Today we heard the Lord's parable about the man who had an over-abundance of goods and wealth. What was his solution to his overflowing blessings? To hoard them for himself; to build bigger spaces in which to store them.

So, what was the context for this parable? Jesus had been asked by a man in the crowd to act as a Scribe or what the Bible calls a “lawyer.” He had a dispute with his brother concerning his part of the inheritance from his recently deceased father. Jesus answered “who made Me a judge or a divider between you?” And He said unto them, “Take heed, and keep yourselves from all greediness: for a man's life is not derived from his possessions, by reason of his having an over-abundance.” (Luke 12:13)

Money or possessions are not, in themselves, evil. But it's what we DO with our wealth that determines our spiritual condition. It's the LOVE of money that St Paul says is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), not the money itself. Wealth is given by the Lord for us to do good with, to share, not to gather for ourselves.

Hoarding wealth is considered by God, to be robbery of the poor; and robbery of the poor is considered robbery of God. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me” Jesus said. (Matthew 25:40)

Hoarding of wealth is also considered to be robbing the Church. The Lord, through the holy prophet Haggai, asks: “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your fancy and well-built houses, while My temple lies in ruins?"

(Haggai 1:4)

St Cyril of Alexandria, in the early 5th century, wrote:

“Our virtue-loving Master wishes us to depart far from all earthly and temporal matters; to flee from the love of the flesh, and from the vain anxiety of business, and from base lusts; to set no value on hoards, to despise wealth, and the love of gain; to be good and loving unto one another; not to lay up treasures upon earth; to be superior to strife and envy, not quarrelling with the brethren, but rather giving way to them, even though they seek to gain an advantage over us; 'for from him,' He says, 'who takes away what is yours, demand it not again;' and rather to strive after all those things which are useful and necessary for the salvation of the soul.” (Sermon 89 on Luke)

In Galatians 2:20 St Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We must all say: “I too have been crucified with Christ! I have put to death the hoarding ways of the flesh. I have put off the “old man” of the Law, and I am clothed with the “new man” of the Spirit via holy baptism. As Paul says in another place, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

(Romans 6:4)

When Paul says “it is no longer I that live” he means the fallen man of the flesh, that greedy and avaricious man that needs to be guided by the Law. The man in the crowd who wanted more of the inheritance, wanted Jesus to make a ruling in accordance with his greed, more than the Law of Moses. But Jesus said, “That's not why I'm here! That's not what I'm about!” But, he says, “you need to think not with a fleshly mind, but with one that is guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Law is no longer your school master. You must matriculate to a higher education, a higher life, that is: a relationship not with the Torah, in fact, not with any written book, but a direct relationship, in faith, with Me, your Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bigger barns? We don’t think about physical barns unless we live in Yuba City or Rio Linda. But what are my symbolic “bigger barns?” This is what we should be thinking about. You know, the Christmas Season wants us to think more about giving. But what kind of giving are we doing? What presents am I buying? Am I buying more for myself than I am for others? Have I remembered to be generous to God, whose birth-day we will be celebrating? How does God want us to give? Easy answer - first of all to the poor and to the Church. The cream off the top. Ebenezer Scrooge, once he saw the light about Christmas, first helped a poor boy on the street, and then the entire Cratchit family, who were crushed by the poverty that he himself had caused. Next, he gave to a church charitable fund. And so on. So the question is, do we build big bank accounts, or big portfolios, or do we build multiple houses or vacation spots while we simultaneously rob God? May God help us to adopt a different spirit this Advent. If we would only begin to empty some of these “barns” of ours, and lead a more generous and Christian life, then we will have no fear at all on Judgment Day. What does Solomon say in Proverbs? “He that has pity on the poor lends to the Lord; and he will recompense him in accordance with his gift” (Proverbs 19:17 LXX).