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.’”
Reflection: When Ana and I exchanged our vows more than 41 years ago little did we know how incredible our journey would be. Among the many lessons and pearls we were blessed with was the realization we are called to help each other get to heaven. This is one of the most difficult aspects of our journey as individuals and as a Sacrament. God’s grace has been evident in so many ways to help and guide us especially when it comes to forgiveness. Over the course of many years there have been countless reasons I have asked Ana to forgive me. And because she is such an incredible soul, she has granted me forgiveness and reconciliation every time. This has helped me grow in faith, hope, and love which are the steppingstones to everlasting joy in heaven.
Like the rich man, I, Ana being the eldest of four children wanted my siblings to not make the same mistakes I made and suffer the consequences. Being a parent now for almost 40 years and a grandma for over 21 years, I too want the best for them and pray that they make the right choices in life. I want them to have Christ in their lives. I don’t want them to suffer now or later. I know that they may not always listen to what we have to say but I pray that we are examples of living our Sacrament and having God in the center of our lives.
Today’s gospel may seem ominous, but it is a reminder that God’s love and mercy, although limitless, ultimately cannot make us choose Him over our own desires. As a spouse, parent, or grandparent we get a glimpse into that dilemma. We strive to do our best to serve our loved ones and provide them with the gift of our lives yet the choice to follow Jesus will always be theirs. However, like God we will never give up on our loved ones. We will continue to support, pray for, and love them even though it may require us to suffer and die to ourselves. Is this not the way of the cross? Jesus came to serve, not to be served. In doing so he showed us how we can all help each other get to heaven.
Action of the Day: Do you feel like giving up on someone you love? Don’t! Reach out again and share the grace God has given you to serve others. The attempt you make may be the one that helps them out of the darkness and into the light.