In today's Gospel, the rich man (having received God's blessing of abundant crops) thought within himself, "What shall I do?" And so he thought it over and decided that he would tear down the old barns and build bigger and better ones in order to store his goods, saying to his soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry."
Now, what is wrong with this picture?.... There are three things here I would like to point out. First of all, the man merely "thought within himself." Though it was clearly God Who had so blessed him, he apparently did not consider praying for guidance, seeking to discern what God's will might be in the matter. And I daresay we all do the same, more times than not. Too often we rely less on God than upon our own (often defective) logic and our self-centered desires when it comes to making significant life decisions. Then we end up wondering why our "best laid plans" so often come to naught.
Second, the rich man seems to think that the primary purpose of life is to enjoy as much ease and pleasure as possible--while at all costs avoiding pain and suffering. This is indeed the philosophy of many in today's materialistic, consumeristic, effectively Godless society. I've often heard people say something like, "I wish I would win the lottery, then I'd be set for life and wouldn't ever have to work another day in my life!" Yet it precisely honest work that gives meaning and purpose to our lives. What would we do otherwise all day, every day? Go fishing, watch Packers games, drink beer, and above all... have fun? How dismal and boring! Truth is, here we have no continuing city, but we wait with patience the revelation of the Jerusalem on high. We are but pilgrims upon this earth: this transitory earthly life is but preparation for eternal life in God's Kingdom.
Third: the rich man assumes he has "many years" in which to enjoy the material pleasures of this life, when in reality God could claim our soul this very night. It was, after all, God Who created us and determined our circumstances in this world, and it is He alone Who determines the measure of our allotted years on earth. And in the end, no amount of fame or fortune can deliver us from the consequences of a futile and pointless life lived apart from God.
Today we celebrate the Great Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple. From the age of three, the holy Virgin was totally dedicated to God, while her whole life was consecrated to the fulfillment of her destined role in God's plan for the salvation of the human race. May we, too, every strive to follow her holy example, setting our sights not on the things of this earth, but rather upon those good things God has in store for those who love Him and abide by His commandments.