Evening Prayer October 27


Scripture Luke 12: 1-3; 15-21



Today’s service of Evening Prayer explores some criticism by Jesus of the Pharisees.  it concludes with the parable of the rich fool, who mistakenly thought that he was totally in control. Image from: https://www.acatholic.org/18th-sunday-in-ordinary-time-year-c-august-4-2019-the-danger-of-riches

All of Chapters 11 and 12 of Luke’s Gospel comprise various sayings of Jesus. Many of them are Luke’s recollection of sayings that in Matthew’s version we call the Sermon on the Mount.

The first small section of the reading includes two ideas that warrant explanation.

The “yeast of the Pharisees”

We have met this idea before. For Jews, yeast is somewhat dubious in terms of ritual cleanliness. You remember, I’m sure, the parable of the leaven (or yeast). A tiny amount of leaven is enough to make a whole loaf of bread rise. Jesus used this as a metaphor for the growth of God’s kingdom. A few people might follow Jesus at first, but many more join them.

But in the days before microscopes were invented, yeast was mysterious. That made it somewhat suspect. That’s why you had to clear it out of your cupboard before Passover, to make sure that your home was ritually pure for the festival. So, there was a compromise. Outside Passover, I guess that it would have been too much of a hardship to ask people never to eat bread that had been leavened.

But, in the context of today’s reading, Jesus was back to the somewhat shifty reputation of yeast. He had just been in an argument with the Pharisees, having accused them of hypocrisy. That made them like yeast. Their attitudes could contaminate everyone else.


I guess that we might call someone “two-faced’ if we wanted to use more ordinary language. Actually, ‘two-faced’ is close to the original meaning of the word hypocrite. In ancient Greece, an actor wore a mask that represented the person he was pretending to be. So a Hypocrite was someone who wore a mask to cover up their actual identity.

The parable of the rich fool

A farmer’s land had produced so abundantly that he couldn’t store all his crops. So he decided to build larger barns and then retire. “I’ll relax; eat drink, and be merry.” He thought he was in control. But God said that he would die that very night. What would all his possessions matter then? It reminds me of the people who have so much “stuff” in their houses that they have to rent a self-storage locker to keep what won’t fit in the house!

This Gospel story exemplifies Jesus’ attitude towards money and possessions. He criticized people who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.

Jesus didn’t criticize the farmer for being rich, but for being selfish. He did not call the farmer a sinner. He called him a fool. The farmer wasn’t particularly greedy. Just lucky. His land had yielded well. Here, Jesus reminds us that wealth comes from God’s bounty and good luck, not just by our own hard work. The farmer thought that the only purpose of wealth was his own enjoyment of it. Perhaps Jesus implied that he should have given some to less fortunate people out of his abundance, which was merely the result of good luck.