Dear brothers and sisters,
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus
As we continue to journey with our Lord through Luke’s gospel, we are finding His teachings more and more disturbing for us. If this is happening, the goal is being achieved, for our Lord wishes to reverse our view of the world, our view of life. He is intent on aligning our ways to His and it is going to be upsetting for us at first.
In today’s gospel, the rich man is unnamed, the poor man is named. This is disturbing because if he does not know anyone by name, then the rich are somehow unfamiliar to Him.
The people on earth who are most famous tend to be the rich. We know them by name. We do not know the poor by name. God knows Lazarus by name. The rich man He does not know by name.
Does this mean that God only loves the poor and does not love the rich? No. It means that His love for the rich is being rejected by them when the rich trust and love their mammon more than their God. When they do this, they have chosen to reject being on a first-name-basis relationship with God.
Does God then reject them also? No. We know that God has never rejected us. He never will. He is our Father and He never has rejected us. God our Father always honors the choices we make, even the choices to reject Him.
We also know from the parables of the previous Sundays that God our Father seeks us out, that He lights a lamp to find us in the dark, that He gives a share of the inheritance to us His sons and daughters even when we presume Him dead.
We also remember that when we come to our senses and return to Him even with imperfect contrition, He embarrasses Himself and runs to greet us. We also remember that when we are self-righteous and refuse to be happy for repentant sinners, He comes out to us to persuade us to celebrate with Him.
Today, He is persuading us with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Let us not be a stranger to Him. He is persuading us to become familiar with Him again through Moses and the prophets and remember that we are the children He promised to Abraham.
He is also persuading us to know that the dark place of torment that we may find ourselves in when we reject Him continually is but the necessary place of our own purgation, of rehabilitation.
Purgatory is the necessary place for us where we already here and now suffer the purifying fire of God’s love cleansing us of all our addictions to mammon.
The reassuring part of all this is this: our Lord, on Good Friday, goes to suffer this tormenting fire of purifying love with us. This is why He insists that He must go to Jerusalem. He does not want us to remain nameless to His Father. – Fr. Simi.