Luke 16: 19 – 31
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. When you have chosen your path you follow it, in fact it is all you know unless something happens to knock you down or off it. In times of life crises like an illness or tragedy we are woken from our ways and more than ever need to turn to God and listen. Even then, many, even most people do not wake up then either. For them, one can only hope that the path they chose included lots of loving kindness and mercy, so that they might receive it when they need it. *
I can imagine the heart of Jesus that gives rise to such a story: seeing people self-satisfied in their lives and blindly going where they in fact do not want to go. It does not matter how much they have been sent prophets to warn them, even having Jesus walking among them was not enough to get their attention. Even after he rose from the dead it was still the same sad story. God give us grace to be somehow ready to reach for you those whose hearts are hardened, those who have insulated themselves from their own suffering and that of others with their wealth, success and distractions. Give us grace to reach these children of yours, who if they saw the light, could become great channels of your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
* Matthew 25: 31 – 46
Noon Day Prayers Question
You are also blind and do not hear what Jesus is saying. Where do you feel this resistance in you? Pay attention to your reactions to what Jesus said and did. Stop relying on your common sense and your beliefs and be open to the fact that something else indeed might be the case. Pray that your ears might be unstopped, that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened. *
* Ephesians 1:18
Luke 17: 1 – 10
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
We are often so given to pride, to thinking of ourselves more than we ought. The only appropriate measuring stick for us to measure ourselves against is the one who created us, who empowers us, whose work we are doing. In this case we are always unworthy servants grateful to have been chosen. Humility is a tough lesson that needs teaching over and over again.
It also takes humility to forgive our fellow followers of Jesus repeatedly, even 7 times in a day for the same mistake. The offence that comes from self-righteous judgement is enough to make a brother or sister stumble. “So watch yourselves!” In such a case it is so easy to think more of ourselves than we ought to because we have been caught judging someone else and comparing ourselves to them. No! We forgive them, grateful that we have not been sucked into a mistake in response to theirs. Notice though, that a rebuke is appropriate right off the bat. Sometimes we keep people in sinful patterns by not confronting them with the truth. Give us wisdom Jesus as we seek to apply your sayings to our lives. Guide us Lord Holy Spirit.
Finally, when the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, they were missing the point. It is not the size of their faith (human achievement or effort) that matters, it is the fact of their faith and the size of their God! This is the teaching point that ripples through these three sayings of Jesus – keeping present in our consciousness just how amazing and present our Abba is in all our circumstances.
Lord Holy Spirit we surrender to your refining work in our lives that our chains of self-understanding, our patterns of unfaithful behaviour may be exposed and burnt away, that we might increasingly bask in the light of your truth and love and so shine for others. Amen.