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.'"
Recent research has challenged the assumption that reasonable people make reasonable decisions. Case in point:
If you were buying an electronic device for $200 from a certain department store, and learned you might purchase the exact same device for $150 in a store three miles away, you'd probably make the trip; and then tell all your friends how you saved fifty bucks.
But if you were purchasing a new car for $25,250 and learned you might buy the exact same model for $25,200 in a store three miles away, you would probably just skip it. Fifty dollars in either case but the persuasion of saving money worked only in the first instance.
People -- the Pharisees in today's parable -- don't always act in their best interest, even when the logic of doing the right thing is irrefutable.
More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9The Church has always believed our faith in God is reasonable. Fools scoff at God's revealed truth; the wise welcome it. They say things like:
- Caring for the poor, the exploited and marginalized makes eminent sense.
- We can't afford not to give our tithe to the Church.
- Paying taxes is a privilege.
- We begin each day in prayer and each week in church.
- As married couples we fight to save our marriage, not to destroy it.
- ... and so forth.
The foolish can use logic too, but not to their advantage, as we hear in today's gospel. The doomed rich man complains that his brothers should be warned; he insinuates to the Just Judge that he wasn't warned. No doubt he had innumerable reasons for neglecting "Moses and the prophets," the worship of God and the mercy he owed to Lazarus. But reason failed him as it always fails the foolish. There's no cure for stupid.
During Lent we ask our hearts are we listening to the revealed wisdom of God or the tortured rationality of the foolish.