Riches a hindrance

Riches a hindrance

Council of Perfection. Riches a hindrance.

(The Gospel History, Section 119)

And as he was going forth into the way, a certain ruler ran to him, and kneeled to him, and asked him, saying. Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? and askest thou me concerning
 that which is good? None is good save one, even
 God. But if thou wouldest enter into life keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? And Jesus 
said, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. And the young man said unto him, Master, all these things have I observed from my youth up: what lack I yet? And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest yet: if thou wouldest be perfect, go, sell all that thou hast and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have
 treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. But when 
the young man heard the saying his countenance fell, and he went away exceeding sorrowful: for he was one that had great possessions.


(The Saviour of the World, Vol VII Book I Poem XVIII)

Disciple. Lord, see him go, how sorrowful, for, since,
He loved Thee well!

Second Disciple. Wherefore wast hard with him?
This young man’s lead full well had served no cause.
A man of parts and power and boundless wealth,
Where he goes many follow.

Third Disciple. All men say,
What ignorant souls are we, and none has wealth
Or power or aught wherewith to serve our Lord;
What glory in our poor allegiance?
But did some great ones follow Thee, why then,
The Kingdom had come and then our sceptered King!

The Lord. ‘Nay, foolish ones, not yet ye understand:
In the Kingdom of God, the sole measure of a man
By his heart is ta’en; it seeks not rills or frills,
Ruler of man or slave, wise or unlearned,
Gives he his heart a very precious gift.
Whole and entire, his God demands no more!
That man is in the Kingdom as are ye!

Third Disciple. But Lord, this ruler loved Thee, what wouldst more?

The Lord. Aye, with divided heart; another claimed
His secret thoughts, his care, his first regard,
E’en Mammon, of whose thraldom, yestre’en,
I bade My friends beware.

Second Disciple. But even so,
Sure he would give and lend and use for Thee
Riches which hinder him?

The Lord. Aye, many rich
Give not first place to riches, these perceive
A good that riches cannot give or take,
And these receive the Kingdom; for the rest,
How hardly shall they that have riches enter in!

And as the Master spake, wistful He watched
The young man go from Him, slow, sorrowful
Aware he left behind the life he craved,
And yet he went, nor even turned to look
Lest Christ’s so winning aspect should draw him back.

The Lord. How hard, I say to you, for a rich man
To enter into the Kingdom of God!

The disciples listened: all their days,
They’d heard of riches as the passport sure,
To every blessedness, and most of all,
To that immunity reached through th’ Temple gates!
Perceiving their concern, the Lord made haste
To make His doctrine plain to simple folk.

The Lord. Children, how hard, I say, it is for them
That trust in riches there to enter in
Where the King reigns to Whom all trust is due
Who trusts his father and his father’s foe?
Perceive ye not, man’s heart must be at one
Nor may he secret swell with pride of wealth
Who comes to his Father’s feet. This is hard;
Aye, hard as for yon great heart with all his bulk
And all the bulk he carries to pass through
The needle’s eye of him who plies his trade
Sitting and stitching in the shadow there.

The astonished men gazed anxious, each at each;
Has any truth in the rumors passed about
That their Master was beside Himself, nor knew,
To measure values, judge ’twixt this and that:
Was the young ruler right, should they, too, go?

Can any, then, be saved, if rich and great,
With ample leisure to pursue the quest
Hath wealth for alms and priestly dues, with time
For their souls’ salvation, if ’tis not these,
Pray, who can do God service?

The Lord. Ye are right
My friends, and Mammon bears rule over men,
But see you, God is greater; a rich man tries
Would fain give heart to God; then Mammon comes
With irresistible lure draws him away;
For man’s the feeble thrall of all his wealth
He cannot help himself; but with our God
All things are possible; He meets the man
Who would but could not come; almighty strength
Is added to his weakness; as a problem parts

With heart diseased to save his body’s health,
So this, to save his soul gives all that wealth
Stood betwixt him and God. He enters in.

St. Matthew xix. 16-22;
St. Mark x. 17-27;
St. Luke xviii. 18-23