2nd Thursday of Lent
Jeremiah 17: 5 – 10; Psalm 1; Luke 16: 19 – 31
In the Letter to the Hebrews God’s word is described as a two edged sword, a word of power and love issuing from the heart of God. That divine word can come to us in many ways, as God chooses. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is this word but also, within the parable there is the Word about how that word might be proclaimed – in an unsuspecting way.
Lazarus is more than a wretched beggar exiled outside the home of an extremely rich man. Surely, he was repulsive in appearance and in smell; and in all that, he was God’s word in human flesh. But sad to say, for the wealthy man, his riches, his diet, his sumptuous living had rendered him deaf and blind to the Sacred Word. Over time, his heart became hardened and his nurtured self-importance was louder than God’s Word calling him to recognize a fellow human being in Lazarus and, of course, a call to charity.
Both die and the rich man dies with the decisions, the choices of his life and now these are irreversible – he is in torment, something he never knew in his former life. And even in his torment he is still ignorant of the human dignity of Lazarus. He paid no attention to him in life and now in death, he sees him only as a slave to relieve his thirst and then as a messenger, a servant to warn his brothers.
Jesus’ parable, of course, is addressed to us called to conversion of life in every aspect. Is it possible to be filled with our own form of splendor? Is it possible to feed on our own ego? It might be said that given original sin, given the imperfections of life, there might be traces of this in anyone, in us.
Our God calls us to conversion of heart and that Word can come and does come through others – others that God chooses in His mercy. So, if, by chance, we have chosen to write someone off as the rich man wrote off Lazarus, we might also have written God off and decided how and when His Word is welcome. Our decisions will follow us – no doubt about that!