Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 29, 2013


Gospel reading of the day:

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 on the gospel reading: It is unsettling, I think, for many Christians to read this parable, because a version of Christianity has taken root in America that is adverse to the implications of what Jesus is saying here. The rich man in today’s parable may have worked very hard for the things he had; he may have sacrificed much to obtain his position; he probably loved his wife and children; and perhaps he was a faithful participant in Sabbath prayers at the synagogue and rigorously devoted to adherence to the Law. Why should God not reward such a man? Why would God prefer the worthless homeless man who apparently never produced anything to benefit society–perhaps never lifted a hand to do a bit of work?

It may not seem fair to many people who work hard for what they have in life, but the scriptures are clear that God loves the poor–not because they’re good or productive, but simply because they’re poor. They have a leg up in the kingdom of God. As for the rich man, whatever merits arise from his faithfulness to his duties, he did not know what justice means. He did not know what love means. He did not know what a truly human society means. He did not know what religion means.

Jesus came to turn the world upside down, and it is indeed unsettling for us that many who are first now will be last, while many who are last will be first.

Spiritual reading: The human soul is to God is as the flower to the sun; it opens at its approach, and shuts when it withdraws. (Benjamin Whichcote)

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