March 5 – Warning from Heaven
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz′arus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz′arus in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz′arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz′arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’”
Our God is a God of second chances…and third…and fourth. He is patient with us, always waiting for us to come back to Him and always sending warnings for us to repent now before it is too late. Once again, here is another parable that Jesus uses to warn us to repent now before we run out of chances.
Jesus compares those of us who are blessed with comfort in this life to the rich man. We actually live a pretty great life here in America and many nations across the world. We have or at least have access to food, shelter, and clothing – and we all are at least reading this reflection on some sort of electronic device. Do we pay attention to the Lazarus’ of the world? The poor and the poorest of the poor? Lazarus just wanted the scraps of what fell from the rich man’s table, and only the dogs would lick at his wounds. He has nothing, and because he has leprosy, there is little hope for his gaining anything but from the generosity of others. In this imperfect world, we will always have poor among us; it is a sad fact. God isn’t callous to the poor; rather, He gives those whom He blesses with material gifts an incredible opportunity to be godlike to those whom He does not. What a blessing it is to be like God and bless someone else in need, but many squander the opportunity.
Jesus goes on to explain where these two souls go after death. Lazarus is carried to the bosom of Abraham, and the rich man is sent to Hades in torment. This does not mean all the rich go to Hell, but it means those who are selfish (and even the poor can be selfish) create difficulty for themselves to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:24). We are all given a measure of blessing, some more than others. We must share the gifts that we are given with those who are less fortunate than us.
The rich man asks to have Lazarus sent to his father’s house to warn his brothers so they will not follow him into Hell. Jesus then reminds us of all the warnings and second chances that we have been given through Moses and the prophets. Then ironically, He mentions that they (the Pharisees) won’t even be convinced if someone should rise from the dead! Our God has given us so many “second chances” to repent and treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as He wants us to. Take this “second chance” now and obey. We are called to share our blessings and turn away from our selfishness before it is too late.
Lent in Action:
Participate in the Rice Bowl program or give generously to a local Homeless Shelter.
Risen Christ, I look up to you on this day and believe! Help me to see the Lazarus’ of my time and show me how you would like me to help. For I know when I feed the hungry, I am feeding you. When I clothe the naked, I am dressing you. Remove my selfish desires and disgust in those who are dirty and sick, instead work through me and allow me to be a blessing to them. I ask this in your Holy Name. Amen.