Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Daily - 3/11/09

Luke 16:19-31 - Thursday's Gospel

19 "There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.

20 And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,

21 who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.

22 When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,

23 and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

24 And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.'

25 Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.

26 Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.'

27 He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house,

28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.'

29 But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'

30 He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31 Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"
There is a lot of imagery in this passage, and it prompts a lot of questions. Is this a parable or an account? Where exactly is the rich man - hell, or maybe purgatory (e.g., Scott Hahn thinks it purgatory, I think he's wrong). What is the torment like? Will we actually be able to see from one side to another? Am I going to meet Abraham?

In my opinion, getting caught up in such details detracts from the clear message of the passage. We are called to obey Christ. We are called to help those in need. Christ is very clear on that in this passage, and in others. And in this passage, he gives us a glimpse of what the consequences of disobedience might be.

When I read this I think about the times I've walked away from someone asking for money, because I just didn't want to be bothered, or I figured it was a scam, or I convinced myself that I shouldn't help because he'd just spend it on alcohol or cigarettes. Or times when I've been too busy with the things of my life to help with something else. Nope, I can't do that, I've got to get to soccer, baseball, cub scouts, dance, whatever.

Somewhere there's a balance to be found. If I knew where it was, I'd tell you.