Thursday, March 16, 2006
Reality Check  

The Church is very interested in providing us with what today might be termed a reality check. Indeed, the Gospel is a call to the truth about God and ourselves. The truth is that although God created us and loves us, we have turned from Him. We have rejected the very One we need. That does not stop God from continuing to offer Himself to us. Consequently, we need to repent or turn back to God and away from our path which leads us away from Him.

One of the most powerful ways that the Church has provided us with a reminder of what is real is the liturgical season of Lent. It begins on Ash Wednesday with a reminder to us that our life is very fragile. We have come from dust and to dust we shall return. The reality of death cannot be ignored. However, the end is not like the beginning. The end of Lent is the death of Christ. God who has become man takes our place on the cross as the perfect lamb slain for our sins. Faced with the prospect that our rebellion against God will lead to certain death, God intervenes and offers His Son to take death in our place.

Even in grasping that reality, we recognize that sin has caused death. God did not create man and woman to die, but through sin, man and woman chose other than God. At that time, death became part of the fallen human experience. If man is able to choose to be apart from God who is Life, there must be a reality which is separation from God. Such spiritual death is the final end for those who set their will against God.

Today's Gospel reading underscores that reality. Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar. The rich man chose his comfortable life rather than God's Life which would have moved him to help Lazarus. Lazarus, on the other hand, suffered greatly during his life and was reward with comfort after he died.

The will of the rich man became set through his preoccupation with things rather than God. His will had become so hardened in its opposition to God that even after death he does not understand what has happened. He wants Lazarus to comfort him in his torment. His will had become so far removed from God that he did not understand the reality that not only could Lazarus not comfort him, but he was foolish to even be asking for comfort from the one he had failed to comfort.

The parable ends with Abraham explaining to the rich man that each person is given by God all that he needs to turn to God. The rich man's brothers have Moses and the Prophets (shorthand for the Old Testament) to warn them to return to God. If they do not believe in God through God's prophets, neither will a man raised from the dead convince them.

This last comment is a powerful reality check. Jesus spoke this parable to the religious leaders of His time who knew Scripture. He was to be raised from the dead. However, He is making the point that those who hear Him could believe in Him based on Moses and the Prophets. If God's prophets do not convince them, neither will His resurrection convince them that God is with them. Jesus seems to be indicating that each of us is given by God all the opportunities needed to return to Him. It is not a matter of waiting for that powerful sign or proof to convince us. We already have enough to persuade us. It is our will that is keeping us from coming back to him. Like the rich man, we are too preoccupied with this world and failing to focus on the next.

Posted by David at 6:13 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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