Discovered in modern day Varna Bulgaria, this corpse dates back to the 5th millennium BC. It’s being cited as a perfect example of the oldest known grave found with the most amount of gold buried with it. It is obvious this person was deemed important in the local community. It’s no doubt he was a high ranking official.
I find the image useful for those of us who often lament our poverty. While having a few bucks in your back pocket isn’t overall a bad thing, it is our attitude towards money, ego and self-love that really is the problem. Many back then were of the impression that you could take it all with you.
In the after life buried with all their concubines they’ll still be pleasuring themselves as if on earth. The fact this corpse had a penile gold cap over his penis goes to show the length (no pun intended) to which they had gone in order to make a point (again no pun intended) about how tied they were to the pleasures of the flesh.
There are other instances in China of a rich woman buried with similar objects being surrounded by all her food dishes and drinking pots filled with wine. They all thought they were going to bring it all with them to some sort of afterlife and continue life’s pleasurable orgy. The pictures we see depicting these corpses are a stark reminder that we are all dust and to dust we shall return. And when we return to that dust the wealth we bring with us will not be that of gold and silver, but of good deeds and even greater deeds.
The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I to stand before the Lord a poor pauper? Or Will I appear to him as a man of great wealth?”. That’s the upside down world we live in where God views the wealthy as poor, and the poor beggars as wealthy. Not that being poor is a virtue in itself nor being wealthy sinful. The Lord looks at how we managed our wealth and the poor on how they so stupidly desired to bite off more than they could chew.
In reality, wealth is a heavy burden even for those who manage it well and do right with it in the sight of the Lord. It is worse than poverty only in that in the hands of a stupid person, it changes their character. Even in the hands of a good person it remains a constant source of temptation.
Wealth can bring a man of good repute and make of him an evil, self loving and egotistical delinquent. I like to think of how Gollum from Lord of the rings depicts this change of character. He was human before he came across the golden ring, and once in his possession, his greed for it transformed him into something hideous. This is how we will look before the Lord rich or poor in material possessions on earth if we do not possess the wealth of virtue.
Look at this image and stare at it every time you’re feeling the pinch of poverty. Meditate on your own death and picture yourself in the coffin. Picture yourself standing before the Lord of all Lords who has no need for your golden rings and flashy looking tombstone . Maybe then you will treat life to be regarded as something that is but a mere spark from the greater fires of eternity that await us if we don’t change for the better.
Build up your treasure in heaven, for where your treasure is so too will be your heart. If your treasure is gold then your heart will become cold and lifeless as gold. If it is virtue, then the warmth of Gods eternal presence will fill your breast and you shall become like unto god by participation in the Divine will and radiate the beauty that comes with such love of God. Choose your wealth wisely and live your poverty with hope of something greater.