March 4th, 2021

The Gospel according to Luke (16: 19-31) 

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, Father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 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.”

Opening Prayer: Lord, help me in this prayer to open my heart more and more to you so that I may begin to open it to others. They are your children. Help me to love them as you do.

Encountering Christ: If there is any time of the year that the message in today’s gospel should call to us it is Lent.  Aren’t we supposed to be focusing on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving?  Well, for that matter, should there be a time of the year that we are not working on all facets of our faith life in action.  Did I just sound like a “Dad”?

This is one reading that has always made me nervous.  It makes me think if I have too much stuff.  Is my house too big, my car too nice, do I have too much money in my savings account?  The answer to these questions, for most of my life, was no.  However, we have been blessed after years of hard work and prudence with more than we need.  So, should I feel guilty.  If you are in the same boat, should you?

There is a verse from 1 Timothy (6:10) that helps pull me out of a tailspin, “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.” Some have misread this passage as, money is the root of all evil, when in fact it says that love of money is the root of evil.

Money in and of itself is an inanimate thing.  Sure, having lots of it can make life a lot easier but it can also have the opposite effect as well.  How many times have we dreamed of winning the big lottery?  And how many times have we heard of people’s lives being destroyed after winning large sums of money.  It was not the money that brought them many pains but the emotions, contortions, and grief that comes with the desires having money can evoke.

It was not money or wealth that caused rich man to suffer in the afterlife, it was his choices, blinded by his wealth that resulted in ignoring the needs of others.  We too have many opportunities to assist those less fortunate than ourselves.  We may not be wealthy but most of us have been in situations where we have or had more than what we need.  Although we cannot do anything about our past inattention in sharing our over abundance there is always someone or some cause that is in need of help now.  There are also those in need of our spiritual overabundance.  We can share what overflows from our cups with those who struggle with loneliness, depression, isolation, or other forms of spiritual need.

One last thought.  We know when we share of our time, treasures, and talents that we can not out give God.  He repays us many times over when we share what he ultimately provides us.

Closing Prayer: Dear generous provider of all good things please help us to be wise stewards of our material blessings.  May we learn from our mistakes and those of others not to hold on too tightly to what may bring pleasure for a moment but suffering for a lifetime.  Guard our minds from the temptation that misleads our hearts to desire the power of money over the love of people. 

Action for the Day: Return one of the envelopes you receive in the mail asking for financial help to a worthy cause with a donation.  Increase your weekly donation to your church.  Reach out to someone you have not spoken to in a while.  Find a way to share of your time, treasure, or talents.

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