The Gospel reading today (according to the New Calendar) was Luke 18:18-27, the story of the rich young man that asked Christ how he could inherit eternal life. Christ’s reply was that he needed to sell his belongings, give the money to the poor and then follow Him. The young man was saddened, because he was unwilling to part with his material and earthly riches. The Gospel narrative shows us that it is possible to be held back from the blessings of God because of material success. Indeed, Christ even says, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

Contrary to this, St. Nicholai of Zhicha tells us a story of Abba Macarius the Great (Jan 19), and two other elders:

Examples of the meek in enduring assaults such as we find in the Holy Fathers are simply amazing. Returning once from the path to his cell, Macarius the Great saw a certain thief removing his belongings from his cell and loading them onto a donkey. Macarius did not say anything to him but rather began to assist him to comfortably load all the things on the donkey, saying to himself, “For we brought nothing into the world” (I Timothy 6:7). Another elder, when the thieves stole everything from his cell, looked around, noticed that they did not take a bundle with money which lay hidden somewhere, and immediately took this bundle, called out to the thieves and gave that to them also. Again, a third elder came across thieves as they were robbing his cell and cried out to them: “Hurry, hurry before the brothers come that they may not prevent me to fulfill the commandments of Christ.” “From the one who takes what is yours, do not demand it back” (St. Luke 6:30).

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