The best and most succinct summary of this weekend's Gospel is this: 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"
We live now in an era where those words are truer than ever. As we the faithful devote our lives to the discipleship of Jesus, we have come to understand and be persuaded by the one who rose from the dead. Jesus in this parable warns us to heed His teaching, His Authority, and most of all, His final judgment. This isn't meant to terrify us, however, it is meant to call attention to the now growing majority of people who don't believe in Christ, proving Abraham correct without a doubt.
As someone who consistently sins, I find myself deeply dependent on Jesus being the most compassionate person to ever live because he knows just how easy it is to fall off the straight and narrow path. I sure hope Jesus won't condemn us for less than stellar discipleship. After all, Peter the Rock, Paul the Killer, and the other ten all betrayed Jesus but we believe them to be with Him in eternity. (poor Peter, endlessly working the gates of heaven).
But when we pause to consider our own heeding of the one who raised from the dead, what is the most egregious sin that the ultra-wealthy man committed? He dehumanized or frankly didn't notice the poor man as his responsibility.
I'm not about to launch into our first Social Doctrine of optioning for the poor, but if you need some more reading, check that one out!
I am going to point to the idea that we are growing more and more inhumane. Wars running amuck, a culture that only values us as cogs in a capitalist machine, or at the best, job creators as entrepreneurs who fill a need of the masses. But are we sensitive to the poor? Do we still view them as "other?"
The Rich man begs Abraham to let the poor man warn his father and brothers. What an Idiot!? He still thinks that poor man Lazarus owes him his service. That is an entitled position. But how many of us live in that entitled state? "Oh that poor person on the corner just needs a job, he can work for me, and that will raise his value." If that's the thinking you subscribe to, Jesus is gonna poke you in the ribs in a minute.
When Abraham prophecies this minute we are living in right now, how dehumanizing, devaluing, and despicable have we become? When someone of an opposing view is not just viewed as "wrong" but "Evil" we are playing with fire we don't have the authority to spread. But our focus on the poor can not only include my shelter-dwelling brothers and sisters, it should also focus on us. We are poor. We are in desperate need of spreading the Spirit of love that is the ether of God's presence in this realm. The disaffiliated are the mission field!
How might we the living persuade the now disaffiliated? Some are so angry and jaded that there really can only be one way to bring them home. We have to tough love them! Yes! We need to be such good disciples that they can't deny that God is bringing out our spirits raising good from all things. Your and my call came at baptism and we can keep growing this parish through our ministry to those in our community and those outside. I suggest for you and I sit with the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist next time you are in Church and listen. Don't ask. Listen. Your mission might be renewed and spread fire to others. You never know!?
Personally, I need to take more time for Jesus each day. I am spoiled as His earthly presence dwells in our sanctuary 24 hours a day and I work there eight to twelve hours a day six days a week. Maybe that will motivate me to take a bigger stake in God's Kingdom. Maybe I will just have a few moments of peace and quiet where Jesus just lets me rest before he whispers, "Now MOVE! I see you, and you still have to earn a reward.
So who do I focus on? What kind of person needs me as a bridge to Jesus? I'm not sure so I will keep singing songs that cause me to say, "Uh-oh!" Because by singing those words I pray them, and I sure as the firey hell that consumes the rich man I better mean them.
"How can I say that I love the Lord, whom I've never ever seen before; and forget to say that I love the one whom I walk beside each and every day. How can I look upon your face and ignore God's love? You I must embrace. You're my brother, you're my sister and I love you with the Love of my Lord." - Text, Michael McKay.
Now let Jesus light a fire in you to make some fruitful differences in this world.