The central part of England has some of the most productive agricultural land in the world. Only the Ukraine and western parts of Canada and the United States are more productive. Its productivity fed the generous appetites of England’s wealthy upper class for centuries.
In the Middles Ages, the lords of England cleared the old growth forests to make room for farms. The deer of the forest could no longer satisfy their appetite for red meat. Hunting was time consuming and could not produce at a level to feed the growing population. Deer gave way to large production cattle operations. A transition that altered the social fabric of the lower classes. But what did the wealthy care, they wanted red meat.
As wealth and prosperity grew, the upper class gorged themselves on the abundance of food provided by the land. The abundance led them to believe the land was an endless supply of food. So, when city life became crowded, the lords of England started building large estates on the productive farm land. It provided them some quiet country relief.
The impact of these short-sighted land management policies didn’t hit England until Word War 2. When German U-boats cut them off from the outside world, England realized they could no longer feed themselves. They had grown dependent upon foreign sources of food.
This morning’s text is about a wealthy farmer whose land produces abundantly. He says to his soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” The farmer places infinite value on temporary things. Land does not always produce. Grains can rot in storage. And, we take our selfish desires with us to the grave leaving the consequences for someone else to figure out.
Do not be seduced by abundance. Be thankful, be generous and store up for yourselves riches in heaven. We store up these kinds of riches by remembering God’s love for us, God’s love for our neighbor and the hope this love produces in the soul. (Lk 12: 13-21)