Why are the wicked often prosperous and happy, while the righteous struggle? It’s because they’re not in the game, says St. Ambrose. The spectators loaf about in their luxury boxes, but the athletes who do all the work win all the prizes.
Perhaps you are saying, “Why are the wicked joyful? Why do they live in luxury? Why do they not toil with me?”
It is because those who have not put down their names to strive for the crown are not bound to undergo the labors of the contest. Those who have not gone down into the race-course do not anoint themselves with oil or get covered with dust. For those whom glory awaits, trouble is at hand.
The perfumed spectators look on; they do not join in the struggle or endure the sun, the heat, the dust, and the showers. If the athletes say to them: “Come, strive with us,” the spectators will only answer, “We sit here now to decide about you, but you, if you conquer, will gain the glory of the crown and we shall not.”
So those who have devoted themselves to pleasures, luxury, robbery, gain, or honors are spectators rather than combatants. They have the profit of labor, but not the fruits of virtue. They love their ease; by cunning and wickedness they heap up riches; but they will pay the penalty of their iniquity, though it be late. Their rest will be in hell, yours in heaven; their home in the grave, yours in paradise. –St. Ambrose, On the Duties of the Clergy, 1.16
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Do I sometimes envy the rich and famous?
Does it help to remember St. Ambrose’s sports analogy?
Lord, look upon me in your mercy, and let your sheep not become a goat; for although I am not enough to justify myself, yet I do not will to sin.