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Future Plans

Jesus The Mediator

In today’s story Jesus is invited to be a mediator, a very difficult but highly honourable role in this culture. Conflicts can easily escalate to blood feuds that no one wants.

The key role of the mediator is to head off the blood feuds. The role is honoured and advocated in the Matthean Beatitudes (Mt 5:9) “Truly worthy of esteem, truly honourable are the peacemakers for they will be considered God-like.”

Jesus gives the real reason for his refusal. He suspected he was being drawn into a conflict driven by greed. Ideally the mediator is a kinsperson at least five links removed from the disputing parties. Above all, the mediator should be a person who, because of personality, status, respect, wealth, influence, or other characteristics, can create in the litigants a willingness to conform with his decision.

Jesus responds to the honourable invitation in two ways. First, he adopts the customary role of cultural humility. Paying and receiving compliments is dangerous in this culture. Jesus protects himself against envy and the evil eye by his feigned humility: “Friend, who set me to be judge or arbitrator over you?”

Second, Jesus gives the real reason for his refusal. He suspected he was being drawn into a conflict driven by greed.


The Parable and Greed

In Jesus’ parable about the man with the bumper crop, God is not pleased with his plan to “save for the future” in bigger barns. God calls this man a fool! The man deserves God’s judgment.

The man is clearly a landowner, a minuscule minority in Jesus’ world. He appears to live on his land and share in the work of the land. When he realizes the magnitude of his crops, he plans to tear down his barns and build bigger ones.

But his “future planning” is condemned by God and even by the words of the fool himself. “You have ample goods laid up for many years,” said the fool. “Relax, eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk 12:19).

What should the fool have done? The same anyone else in that position should have done: distribute the surplus to others, immediately.

The lucky landowner was in a good position to become a “patron” to select even more clients, or simply to be beneficent.

John J. Pilch


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