Homily on the 26th Sunday after Pentecost

26th Sunday after Pentecost – the Rich Man.

Homily From “The One Thing Needful,” Sermons of Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko)

The Gospel for last Sunday related to us the parable about the Merciful Samaritan and finished with these words: “Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Lk. 10:37). And today’s Gospel — how does it end? “But God said unto him… This night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Lk. 12:20)

Here are two different ways. They both bring us to our last moment — to death. But there is no death, but rather eternal life. This means that these different paths bring us to the mysterious passage, to the meeting with eternity. All of us have to meet this “mysterious something.” And this meeting will prove to be the most important moment of our entire life on earth, basically what we have lived for. There aren’t even words in our language to express it; but today’s Gospel and also last Sunday’s Gospel give us some indications of this moment, this meeting. At the end of one way will thunder the terrible word, “Fool!” (Lk. 12:20). At the end of the other way, the Gospel does not even give us the word which we will hear, but says only: “Go, and do thou likewise!” This means, only do the same, act in the same way! And you will receive what no words can express.

What determines these two paths? The entire attitude of our life. And this attitude is expressed in our every step, in every action, in every breath. And how strange! Attitude seems to be something unimportant to people, something incidental. But it is not so in God’s eyes. This attitude is just what defines that great mystery which you and I will meet then, at the moment of departure; and that which will determine our lot for ever.

The Merciful Samaritan lived in love for God and neighbor. And every human being was his neighbor. He was as if living in one great family of the Heavenly Father. For him everyone was a brother or sister, and he was a brother to everyone. And the one who fell among robbers was dear to him — he could not pass him by. He stopped, although he too was probably hurrying on some business, like those who did pass by. He helped him, put him on his donkey, brought him to an inn, and entrusted his further care to the innkeeper. He paid for him, and should the innkeeper spend more, he promised to reimburse him when he returned. From all this, it is not difficult for us to determine the attitude of this man’s life: he loved God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his strength, with all his mind; and his neighbor as himself (Lk. 10:27).

What was the life attitude of the rich man in today’s Gospel? As a manager he apparently was a good one; and as a man he was sensible and practical. See how he reasoned: “I will pull down my barns, and build greater: and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods” (Lk. 12:18). Listen to what he says: my fruits, my goods, not even mentioning God; and yet the harvest came from God! And further: “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk. 12:19). And where was love for neighbor? There was none. Not even a thought for his neighbor. All care was for himself alone: rest, food, drink, merriment — only for himself. Selfishness — this was the attitude of his life.

Brothers and sisters, what is the spirit of our life, what is its attitude? I think if we honestly answer this question, then we will see in ourselves some of both. We have in us mercy, but not a little egotism. And if this is so, let us think about these words: “This night thy soul shall be required of thee.” Indeed, this is so, this is true. “This night” means for us any night, any day or hour; but it will definitely be taken. And then, what will our soul hear? What the rich man, the egotist, heard, “Fool!” or will we see that light which appeared to the Merciful Samaritan? Yes, this will be a sentence for all eternity, and this sentence depends on the whole attitude of our life, its spirit.

Before it is too late, let us choose this wonderful attitude of the Merciful Samaritan and let us fight our selfishness as our enemy. Let us fight until death. And let us always remember, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt. 5:7).