Taking Wealth From The Soul, and the Soul From Wealth

The 26th Sunday after Pentecost, Lk.12:16–21

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A rich man was given a rich harvest. He sits and thinks to himself, “What shall I do? I have nowhere to gather my fruits.” And he says, “This is what I will do, I will break down my barns and build bigger ones, and I will gather all my grain and all my goods there. And I will say to my soul, Soul! You have many goods laid up for many years: rest, eat, drink, and be merry!”

You can see this rich man reclining in his armchair, stretching with pleasure, just like in an insurance agency advertisement. Everything is “taken care of,” everything is insured, everything is calculated for many years to come. It seems that he has settled in this world forever, and no longer depends on anyone or anything! But suddenly God, whom he had completely discounted, said to him: Fool! This night your soul will be taken from you.

A person can part with wealth in two ways: either wealth is taken away from him, or he is taken away from wealth. In the first case, it happens that, shocked by a sudden change in fortune, a person begins to reflect on the unsurity of all earthly things, and gradually comes to what is true and imperishable. But when God takes him away, when his soul is torn away forever from that to which it was so attached, what happens to the soul here? What will it suffer?

The Lord reveals the secret of such a soul by asking the very question that will most concern it: “To whom will the things that you have prepared go?” No matter how much a person calls his wealth legitimate and honestly acquired, he still cannot help but see that there are many beggars and hungry people around. And they are not indifferent to his success. They are not only jealous, but they are also making plans to take everything away from him. One needs to build a high fence, arm oneself, hire security. But you also need to calm your conscience. It is necessary to rationally explain to oneself and others why you have it and others do not. And when you succeed in doing so, you begin to look around you not only with fear, but also with triumph, and with contempt: how dare they desire what belongs only to me alone?! God gave me according to my merit, but He did not give to them because of their unworthiness. I’m a hard worker, and they’re lazy! What right do they have to pry, to desire, to grumble?

So, he seems to have sorted out everything, removed all questions. But what confusion must the soul be in when all that which is revealed is made manifest by the light! And how does it feel to see how it fall into someone else’s hateful hands! Who will get what you have prepared? Only those from whom you hid it, whom you despised, whom you did not even consider to be human beings.

In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, both were taken from life at the same time, and let us remember what contempt, even there, the rich man felt for Lazarus, even being in agony himself. But what would have been his anguish if he had seen that the wealth had passed into the hands of this Lazarus! This is exactly what happens to everyone, the Lord concludes, who gathers treasure for himself, and does not become rich in God.

How does one become rich “in God?” Here is an example. One day Peter was also suddenly given wealth. His field of labor was “harvested” and God gave him a huge catch. And what did Peter do? He fell at the feet of the One who gave him wealth, and said: Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. In this way he was immediately enriched by the fear of God, the knowledge of His omnipotence, the vision of his own sinfulness, the hope of His mercy, and the willingness to leave everything and follow Him (Luke 5). That’s what no one can take away. Such a soul itself is just waiting to be delivered and be with Christ, because it is incomparably better (Phil. 1:23).

Therefore, it is said, Arise, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. And this is our happiness, when they take everything away from us before they take us away from everything!

Archpriest Vyacheslav Reznikov
Translation by Igumen Seraphim (Bell)



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