Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons captures the life and death of Sir Thomas More in a compelling way. As the story proceeds we are introduced to Richard Rich, a promising and ambitious young man. Rich asks Thomas More for a position among the privileged at the court of Henry VIII. Thomas says he cannot do that. But he can offer Rich the position of a simple teacher.The upwardly driven man is crestfallen. Thomas tries to cheer him up: “You’d be a good teacher.” Rich fires back, “And if I were, who would know it?” Patiently Thomas explains, “Yourself, your friends, your pupils, God; pretty good public that!” Rich walks away dejected and determined not to be a lowly teacher.
As the story unfolds Rich’s life takes a terribly wrong turn. He schemes, compromises and worms his way into political prominence in the court. And then to obtain the position of Collector of Revenues for Wales he perjures himself and betrays Thomas More, sending him to the gallows. As Rich passes the condemned man on the way out of court Thomas notices the insignia of office around his betrayer’s neck. With piercing insight Thomas says, “You know, Rich, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world …. but for Wales?”
Each of us gives our soul for something by giving it to something. May God help us invest it where there is an eternal return.