"Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions." This isn't a message that gets much advertising. On the contrary, just about every advertised message we hear comes from someone who wants to make money by selling us possessions. The message we hear loud and clear on television or Internet ads or on highway billboards or the back cover of magazines is that we need this product or that service in order to be happy. Professional marketers are in the business of creating a supposed need and then promising to fill it with their product. In today's culture, it's hard to remember that life isn't about possessions.
But in this Gospel, Jesus reminds us that there is more to life than having "so many good things stored up for many years." All of this stuff-be it clothes, devices, equipment, decorations, entertainment centers, or anything else-does no lasting good if and when "this night your life will be demanded of you." Unlike the fool who spends all of his time, energy, and money building larger barns, we should focus our resources on becoming "rich in what matters to God."
This means cultivating virtue instead of vice. It means sharing our money with those in need instead of hoarding it out of selfish greed. The call is a challenging one, and countercultural too. But Jesus never said that the Christian way was the way of the world. As St. Paul instructs us in today's epistle, "Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly." Instead of falling for the marketers' messages, may we have the wisdom to store up our treasure in heaven.