Thursday, September 22, 2016

Proper 21 C - Luke 16:19-31

It appears there is a great chasm between the table of the rich and the poor at the gate that is as fixed as the one between Hades and Abraham’s bosom and the only thing the rich man can count on is that his brothers will be joining him sometime in the future. The lesson to be learned seems to be a Christian version of Karma which means we would do well to make a down payment on a mansion in glory by moving into a homeless shelter in the here and now. But that’s the problem with paying too much attention to the details of a parable which are only there to set up the punch line. According to Luke the crowds to whom Jesus first told the joke included money loving Pharisees but I doubt many of them laughed when they heard it. While they claimed to listen to Moses and the prophets their love of money and neglect of the poor at the gate violated the very teachings they claimed to follow. The irony is that the raising of the real life Lazarus led them to believe Jesus had to die in order to save the nation (John 11:45-53) and because of that we, who believe because someone rose from the dead, listen to Moses and the prophets today. But if we don’t want the joke to be told on us we will bridge the chasm between the table of the rich, where we often sit, and the poor at the gate, which we hardly visit, with acts of charity, mercy and kindness motivated not by a need to avoid Hades but the desire to make the world we live in look a little more like Abraham’s bosom.

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