People who live in wealth are not really fortunate, says St. John Chrysostom. We need to take a long-term view when we’re deciding who is really happy.
Robbers lie in wait in the way and plunder travelers, and hide the wealth of others in their own lurking-places, caves or dens. Do not think they are happy on account of the present, but miserable on account of the future—the fearful judgment, the inevitable account to be rendered, the outer darkness that will envelop them.
Even though robbers often escape human justice, yet, even though we know this, we reject for ourselves such a life as theirs. Even for our enemies we should not wish such an accursed prosperity. Yet we cannot say the same about God: no one can escape his judgment, but all who in any way live in covetousness and plunder will undergo the punishment allotted by him, that deathless punishment without end.
Taking all this into consideration, then, realize that those who are blessed are not the ones who live in wealth, but in virtue; those who are miserable are not those who live in poverty, but in wickedness. Let us look not at the present, but at the future; let us examine, not the outward appearance, but the conscience of each man.
–St. John Chrysostom, Four Discourses, 1.12IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
When I read about the rich and famous, do I envy them?
How can St. John Chrysostom’s words help set my priorities straight?
Lord, heal me of my sins while I am still on earth, and let me never lose your grace or the gift of your Spirit.