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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Meditation: Parables of Lent -- Dives and Lazarus

The Raising of Lazarus by Sebastiano del Piombo
Jesus captured the imaginations of his listeners with stories. And how compelling those stories are! This week at daily Mass we heard about the rich man Dives and the poor man Lazarus at his gate sitting there wishing he could eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. One aspect of the story always strikes me hard.

Did Jesus pick the name Lazarus for the poor man by accident? Hardly! Did He do anything by accident? Just think of the conversation between Dives and Father Abraham. "Send Lazarus to my brothers to warn them so they won't end up in this place." Abraham responds, "They have Moses and the prophets." Dives is convinced that isn't enough. They'll repent if someone comes back from the dead. And how does Abraham respond? "If they won't listen to Moses and the prophets, they won't believe  EVEN IF SOMEONE RISES FROM THE DEAD! 

How many times did Jesus tell this story? No doubt more than once as he traveled around Judea. And how long was it after He told the story before He raised the dead Lazarus from the tomb? Think of it.
He stands outside the cave where Lazarus lies and calls him forth. And do the pharisees believe upon seeing this stupendous miracle? No. Not only do they refuse to believe, but they begin plotting not only the murder of Jesus, but the murder of Lazarus as well. No, even if someone should rise from the dead, they will not believe. The same pharisees who lay burdens on the poor and lengthen the tassels on their clothing imitate the rich man and make themselves, like him, fit for hell. Do they remember the parable or did they erase it along with all the miracles testifying to Jesus as Messiah?

Read the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) and then read the raising of Lazarus (John: 11). Consider the end of the story. "From that day onward there was a plan afoot to kill him." And Caiphas the high priest, led the way saying it was better for one (innocent) man to die for the people. Not only did their treachery include killing Jesus, but Lazarus as well. He was a living witness confirming Jesus as the Son of God with power over life and death. "The great crowd of Jews...came out, not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. The fact was, the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus too, because many Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him on account of Lazarus." (John 12:9-11)

Where are you this Lent? Are you a believer committed to knowing, loving, and serving God? Are you an atheist or agnostic closing your eyes to anything that witnesses to His existence? Do you worship science or money or pleasure? No matter where you are this Lent, I pray you will be a truth seeker. If you are, you are searching for the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Truth is a person not hiding from you, but eager for you to find Him. And He is pursuing you relentlessly out of His great love for you. Can you hear the sound of His feet pursuing you "with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace?" All you have to do is turn and He is there with wide-open arms to embrace you. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The scene of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is beautifully portrayed in the new movie, "The Son of God" now playing in theaters. It is a wonderful and very moving film; I highly recommend it to all.