Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” —Luke 12:16-21 9NRSV)
In Canada, those earning more than $25 an hour before the pandemic have actually done better financially than they would have otherwise, as a result of the pandemic. Those making less are doing worse. They are the ones who are losing their jobs, who don’t have sick pay, who can’t afford good child care, who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. $25 per hour is a lot of money in many parts of the world, but one fact knows no borders: those most vulnerable in the pandemic are those with lower incomes. In Canada that includes indigenous peoples.
So isn’t it ironic that during this monumental crisis of the pandemic, Canadians have amassed record savings – especially those who were doing well to start with. The chief economist for one of our national banks said that by year end 2020, Canadians would have saved close to 200 billion dollars! Normally Canadians save at the rate of about 1.7% of income. Last year that was closer to 25% for much of the year. That money has not gone to help the most vulnerable, it has gone to personal bank accounts and Tax Free Savings Accounts and Mutual funds. Financial advisors think it’s great - build a bigger barn and put it in there while you can.
I think Jesus is speaking to us through the parable of the rich fool. I know he’s speaking to me, and it’s not all that comfortable. What are we doing with our barns? Building bigger ones?
As the pandemic ends, one of the questions being asked is how the health and wellbeing, especially of the vulnerable, and those who have been most at financial risk, will be ensured. Churches and others in society describe this as A Just Recovery for All.
These are the principles for A Just Recovery for All:
Christians, especially in Canada are at a moment when their faith in action will be tested. We have an opportunity to mobilize our own resources for good and to advocate for A Just Recovery for All people in the months ahead. Now is the time to consider this. This is one parable where Jesus’ words are starkly clear to us when he says: So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.
Pray for A Just Recovery for All. Work for a Just Recovery for All.
—Rev. Stephen Kendall
Principal Clerk, The Presbyterian Church in Canada
Toronto, Ontario, Canada