Eucharistic Readings for Sunday of Proper 21: Year C
Amos 6:1a,4-7; Psalm 146; 1st Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31
“He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” (Luke 16:24)
Referring to another Gospel may be a bit off but when I get what I believe to be related messages I like to call attention to it. In the Gospel according to Matthew we hear Jesus tell Peter, “ I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19); and again the same words in Matthew 18:18 (Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.)
The rich man in the Gospel according to Luke experiences this. He could not let go of his privileged status. He assumes that because he was important on earth, he is important in heaven. His world is turned upside down. He thinks so much of himself that even in his dire situation he will not speak with Lazarus directly. He thinks himself above Lazarus. What he bound on earth has stuck with him in heaven and is witnessed against him.
While you and I are still in this life on earth we have the opportunity to have “loosed” whatever is going to hinder us in heaven. We must humble ourselves now so that when that time comes (and it will) we will be on the good side of that great chasm from which no one can cross even if we can talk over it as Father Abraham and the rich man did.
The closer our joys and pains are to each other, the less difference it makes if our world is turned upside down. We should live our lives in moderation. We should appreciate having what we need and at the same time care for those in need as we are able to do so. It is better that we all live safe and comfortable lives than to be so polarized that while a few live very well, a great many suffer hunger and hardship. The Holy Spirit cautions us that the Lazarus of this world could witness against us in the next.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John