Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Lectionary: 233

‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.’

This story of the rich man and Lazarus is one of the saddest of Jesus' parables. It ends with a tormented, clueless sinner lost in the netherworld, suffering in "these flames." 

He seems none the wiser for his conversation with Abraham. Narcissistic and stupid, he still regards Lazarus as one of his domestics who should endure the flames of hell to bring him a drop of water to "cool my tongue." 

He believes he has been unfairly condemned because he was not warned about the consequences of his senseless way of life. But he was warned; he simply refused to hear what Moses and the prophets said to him. 

Jesus does not add a footnote to his parable. There is no suggestion that the rich man will ever escape his torment. Rather he goes on in the next chapter to say to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur."
The judge has spoken. "Next case!" 

I have heard people say they don't believe there is a Hell. They suppose God is too good to permit people to rot in hell forever. That's a strong argument but I don't find evidence for it in the scriptures; and I am reluctant to tell God what he should do. I am more inclined to take his warning seriously. 

I can hear someone arguing with God in a spiritual sitcom, "You're kidding, aren't you?" 

He's not kidding. 

This parable of the rich man and Lazarus is about entitlement. Dives never saw it coming because he, his brothers and his friends -- an elite group of people from among the thousands he might have preferred -- habitually and intentionally ignored the Word of God. They set a chasm between themselves that Lazarus and his dogs could not cross. 

Observers are warning us today: 

  • Who are your friends? 
  • To whom do you listen? 
  • Who do you ignore? 
  • What advice are your select advisors giving you? 
  • Do you search for differing opinions on the Internet, or your own opinions? 
  • Are you listening to your enemies and what they say about you? 
As a priest, I might add: 
  • Did you choose your church or accept the one given to you? 
  • Did you choose your priest or minister, or the one sent to you? and finally,
  • How did you choose where you live? Was it on the principle of "location-location-location" or did the Lord send you there? 
Even the rich man might tell us at this point, "He's not kidding!"

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.