Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute



SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Alleluia, Alleluia

Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor,

so that by his poverty you might become rich.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The holy Gospel according to Saint 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.’”

The Gospel of the Lord.



In Saint Luke’s Gospel, the proclamation of the Beatitudes by Jesus is referred to as the Sermon on the Plain.  Saint Luke’s geographic positioning of the sermon on a plain is in contrast to Saint Matthew who has Jesus teaching the Beatitudes on a Mountain – Sermon on the Mount.   From my perspective, there is a subtlety message implied by having the sermon proclaimed on level ground.  In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is continuously placing the poor on level ground with the rich thereby creating a level playing field.  And, more so, on this divinely arranged playing field, the poor are better off!  The poor are blessed, and while they may hunger now they will be satisfied.  However, the rich who are filled now and who have received consolation now, will be hungry and tormented later (Luke 6: 20-21; 24-26).

It is in the context of Saint Luke’s Sermon on the Plain that today’s parable about the rich man and Lazarus is being told.  Last Sunday’s Gospel and today’s Gospel both have a rich man who has placed all his confidence and trust in mammonmoney.  Realizing that they could not serve two masters, the rich men choose to serve, and indeed worship, possessions and well-being!   They refused to direct their attention toward heavenly things.  Instead, they choose to keep their eyes on the earthly, the here and now, and not what is above and eternal!

The parable is built around dramatic contrastsa great chasm exists between the rich and the poor, between the tormented and the comforted.  The rich man covered his body with fine linen, and the body of Lazarus was covered with sores.   The rich one dined sumptuously each day while the poor one would have eaten his fill of the scraps.   When Lazarus died he was carried up; when the rich man died he was buried down.  Lazarus without possessions was light enough to be lifted up; the rich man was weighed down with his possessions and could not be lifted up!

While what has been described so far is frightful, the more terrifying point comes at the end of the parable.  It seems quite clear that the parable is saying that one could be so blinded by earthly possessions, and his/her heart so closed to the needs of others that: neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.  Jesus Christ is risen!  He was raised up because His arms were wide open on the cross and He clung to nothing but trust in His Father!  Jesus Christ is the great and true witness to the Gospel:

… he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2: 7-8).



Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com



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