A Case for Wealth
A Case for Wealth
“Akiva! You know that this is not fair. That inheritance is rightly mine. I am the older son. Father had no right to give you everything. I should have been the one. Akiva! Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, Reuven, I am listening.” Akiva was bent to the ground fixing a broken strap on his youngest daughter’s sandals. “I hear every word you have to say but it doesn’t make any difference. Father gave the land to me.”
“But what are you going to do with it?” Reuven was getting increasingly frustrated. Nothing had gone right since his father’s death. First, he had been out of town during the final hours and had missed the blessing. Then, when he did arrive, he could not believe what had transpired. “You don’t have any land now! You probably don’t have any idea what crops it will grow or how many lambs it will support.”
“And what makes you the expert suddenly? Reuven, you haven’t been within fifty stones-throws of the place since you left five years ago. You said there was a fortune to be made up in Caesarea and that farming was the last thing you wanted to do with your life.” Akiva slowly stood, picking some straw from his daughter’s hair and shooing her off towards her brothers and sisters playing in the yard. “If you were so interested in having that land you should have stayed around and helped father, especially when he became ill.”
“I would have but there were some things I was involved in that I just couldn’t leave. You know I had some high risk investments in a shipping fleet that was late returning. I couldn’t leave. Who knows what my partners would have done with my share of the profits had I left.”
“So there were profits?”
Reuven stuttered slightly and looked down at his feet. “Well, not exactly. Two of the ships were lost and the little that did return on the remaining ship was water damaged beyond use. But, if I had not been there it would have been a lot worse for me.”
Akiva walked to a nearby olive tree and took refuge in its shade. “So, tell me. What would you do with the land if you had it?”
Reuven came running over, hopeful for the small opening now provided. “I would sell it. Land is at a premium right now. This land is close enough to the temple that when it is finished being built it will be a perfect spot for the traveling caravans and trade fairs. I wager I could get 400 shekels of silver for it.”
“And how much are you in debt to the shipping company for your share of the lost ships?”
“Well, about 400 shekels but, once I pay that off I can borrow again to buy three or four more ships. With that many ships and with the prices the Romans are willing to pay for spices from the Eastern trade market; I will be rich enough to buy ten times the amount of land father left us. Don’t you see? We will both be rich.”
“I don’t know anything about being rich or the Far East spice market. All I do know is that I have a family to feed and the spring lambs raised on this land will help me make sure I can do that.”
“But it should be my land. I am the oldest son. Father was wrong to give it to you.”
“Okay. I’ll tell you what. There is a visiting rabbi in town today. Let’s take this issue to him and see what he has to say. If he feels that father was wrong then I will give you what the rabbi says is fair. Will that work for you?”
“Perfect, Akiva. I know I am right. Any rabbi will see that I am right. Where do we find this rabbi? Let me take my case to him.”
“We can go right after dinner. I want to spend some time with the children first. Remember, however, if the rabbi doesn’t rule in your favor, then you will accept that father’s inheritance is mine to manage. Is that our agreement?”
“That is right. I will walk away and never bother you about it again. Hurry! Let’s eat. I don’t want to miss what this rabbi has to say.”
A few hours later… “Hurry! Akiva he is right over here with this large crowd. I can see him now.” Reuven pushes into the crowd and says, “Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.”
Holy Lord, help us keep our eyes on you. Far too often we become enmeshed in the ways of the world to the point that we lose sight of the important things in life. Your love for us is greater than anything in the world and yet, we frequently turn away to the first promise of glory and instant success that comes our way. We recognize that we should keep our eyes on “things that are above, where Christ is,” but, instead, our gaze falls to earth and the false promises that it offers. Redeem us Lord, so that we can go out into the world and live the holy lives you are calling us to live. Help us to bring our focus to you so that we can experience your transforming love. Set aside our feelings of greed and self-importance and instill in us, instead, the desire and willingness to be involved in the establishment of your kingdom here on earth. Through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Risen Lord, we pray. Amen.
Inspired by Luke 12: 13-21
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