“I have seen men raised to the highest point of worldly honor and riches. Fortune seemed to be in their pay, throwing everything to them without their having the trouble of asking or seeking. Their prosperity in all things outdid their very desires. But in a moment they disappeared. Their vast possessions were fled, and the masters themselves were no more.”
Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor alike: My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding. I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle:
Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me-those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him-the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough-that he should live on forever and not see decay.
For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves. But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Selah
Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.
But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Selah
Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. Though while he lived he counted himself blessed—and men praise you when you prosper-he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life. A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
Eucherius (c. 380-449) Bishop of Lyon in Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi (New York: Doubleday) 199.