April 21, 2010

A Parable of the Elder Barlaam

A certain man had three friends. Two of them he loved sincerely, but with weariness, he avoided the third.

It so happened that the king summoned this man before him to render account and to repay his debt. He turned for help to his first friend who rejected him and departed. He then turned to his second friend but even he did not help him. With shame, he then turned to the third friend and he joyfully accompanied him before the king.

The interpretation is this: the first friend is wealth; the second friend is a relative; the third friend is the good works of men in this world. The king is God Who, through death, sends summons and seeks payment of debt. A dying man seeks help in his wealth, but it turns away and passes on immediately into the hands of another owner. He then turns to his relatives, but his relatives send him off alone and they remain. Then, he reminds himself of his good works, which he carried out with weariness and these immediately accompany him on the path in the presence of the King and Judge. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

The only companions of the soul to the other world are the works of man, be they good or be they bad. All of that which was dear and precious to man, leaves him and turns from him. Only his works, to the very last one, accompany him. He who has a mind to understand, let him understand.