Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – March 17, 2022
2nd Week if Lent, Thursday, Year C
Readings: Jer 17:5-10; Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6; Gospel Lk 16:19-31
Optional Memorial – St. Patrick – Bishop
Theme: Sightless Faith
Today’s Gospel is a well-known passage. We read the story of Lazarus and the rich man. The main theme is to be sure we do not get caught up in this earthly life and forget about everlasting heavenly life. We must make sure that we store up our riches in heaven and not on earth because earthly life is finite whereas life in heaven or hell is infinite. And once our life on earth is over, there is no going back for do-overs. What will be will be and it will be permanent.
It is right to think about these things when we read this passage. But today, I want to focus on the last line said by Abraham, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” Hmmmm, interesting. I would think if someone rose from the dead and came to me with a warning from heaven, I would surely listen to them. If tomorrow, while at work, I received a call from the front desk saying, “St. John Paul the II” is here to see you, I can guarantee you I would beat the roadrunner to the front lobby! And if he sat me down and explained to me that I needed to change my life and how I was living it and focus more on praising God and helping my neighbor than on myself, I would believe him through and through. That would be the first day of the rest of my life and I would immediately change my ways.
So why didn’t Abraham send someone from the dead to his five brothers? Seeing is believing right? Wrong. Christ said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!” Abraham is telling the rich man that if his five brothers need a sign to believe, then they lack faith in Moses’s teachings and thus are not worthy of heaven. Their lack of faith will prevent them from even believing that someone could actually rise from the dead and warn them to change their ways. They will find some way to explain away what they saw or heard and convince themselves that it really did not happen or was a hoax or lie. Their desire for earthly life through seeing and touching will choke out their ability to have sightless faith.
Sound familiar? Christ came back from the dead to show us the road to everlasting life. How many people today lack so much faith that they do not even believe in Christ or that He came back from the dead to save them. All you have to do is look around and see the many brothers of the rich man right here in our daily lives.
Believe in the risen Christ. Know that He left us His teachings just as Moses did for the rich man and his brothers. All of us today did not physically see Christ rise from the dead, but we still believe that His teachings can change the direction of our lives toward heaven through faith. Do not be like the rich man. Heed Christ and store up your riches in Heaven like St. Patrick did in Ireland for 33 years where he converted the faithless to faith and saved a country.