by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
About how men, in prosperity do not listen to the law of God
“I spoke to you in your prosperity; but you said: `I will not hear’ “ (Jeremiah 22:21).
The Lord of Hosts raised this complaint against Jehoiakim, the king of Judah and against the people of Judea. Are not these words in effect even today when they are spoken in the face of our people and almost, with few exceptions, to every one of us individually? When we feel ourselves prosperous, we leave God in the shadows and we render His words to oblivion; but as soon as misfortune encompasses us with its dark wings, we turn to God and cry out to Him for help. In misfortune, the commandments of God seem to us as sweet as honey but in prosperity, they seem as bitter as medicine. Is not then misfortune better than prosperity? Is not misfortune more salvific in which we seek God, than prosperity in which we forget God?
“O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!” (Jeremiah 22:29), cries out the true prophet of God. Man is the earth; the word of the Lord is life planted into that earth. Will the earth prefer to remain without the living crops and be cursed or will it nurse the crops entrusted to it and be blessed? O how ugly is the bare ravine and the barren field and how beautiful is the cultivated field covered with rich crops! O man, you are the one and the other field. Choose: death or life! Not one-householder values the field at all if it does not bear any kind of crop on it. Will God then be less intelligent than an ordinary householder and give some value to the field that fails to bear fruit from every seed that is sown on it?
What will become of man who, in his prosperity, does not listen to the words of God? “And he shall be buried with the burial of an ass” (Jeremiah 22:19). Thus spoke the prophet to King Jehoiakim and his word was realized. When the Chaldeans captured Jerusalem, they killed Jehoiakim. They dragged his body beyond the gates of the city and left it to the dogs. And that which happens to the asses, so it was with the unheeding king. O man, O earth! Hear in time the word of the Lord that the anger of the Householder does not pour out on you as on a barren field and that your end not be as the end of an ass.
O Long-suffering Lord, save us from the stoniness of heart and darkness of mind; from those two bitter diseases, the miserable consequences of those hours of life which men call prosperous. Save and have mercy on us, the Lord of Hosts!
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.