Luke 16:19-31 (NRSV)
Verse 19"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. Verse 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, Verse 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. Verse 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. Verse 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. Verse 24He 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.' Verse 25But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Verse 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' Verse 27He said, 'Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house- Verse 28for I have five brothers-that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Verse 29Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' Verse 30He said, 'No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' Verse 31He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"
I love Peanuts cartoons. In a recent post, Charlie Brown and Linus are leaning on their elbows on a stone wall. Linus says to Charlie Brown, "When I get 'big,' I'd like to be a prophet."
Unfortunately, the witness of prophets down through the centuries has often fallen on deaf ears. We are meant to remember this when, in Jesus' parable, Abraham tells the rich man, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them." In life, the rich man showed little compassion. Will his brothers — or we, Jesus' hearers — be any more ready to listen to challenges about use of wealth and justice for the poor? Still today, our nation and world are wooed by social values of "me first," tempting us to walk past the poor person at our gate.
The good news is that God's compassion and promise of resurrection have the power to lift us up and send us on our way with a different story. May we all be convinced by the One who has indeed risen from the dead!
Forgiving Father, bring us to your Home of peace, love, and a cup that overflows with blessings and grace. Enable your people to share, care, and love in this life of grace. Center us on justice and peace. Amen.