Thursday 2nd Week Lent 2015

PHOTO: LAURENCE FREEMAN

Luke 16:19-31: between us and you a great chasm is established...

We live continuously with this chasm between the haves and the have nots, the healthy and the sick, the smart and the dull, the gorgeous and the ugly, the slim and the fat, the lucky and the cursed. It’s what we mean by the ‘world’.  Jesus said ‘the poor you will always have with you’. We will always fall somewhat short of perfect justice because life itself is not fair and usually the fittest survive. The question is how deep and wide this chasm should be allowed to become. The wider, the more unreal we become; the deeper, the more painful is the chasm.

Today’s parable is about the rich man (unnamed) and the poor man (Lazarus). When they die the rich man pays for his lack of compassion by going to a place of torment while Lazarus is taken by angels to Abraham’s bosom. This seems simple justice but the wisdom of the gospel is never simplistic. Lazarus does not speak. Abraham is his spokesman. The rich man, however speaks. First he cries out for some relief like one of Dante’s souls in the Inferno. Abraham says the chasm is now too wide to reach across. If we don’t work now to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor it will increase exponentially and we will be irreparably divided.

But in gospel wisdom the end is always a beginning. The rich man asks Abraham to warn his family about his fate that they will also suffer if they do not change. Here is a change of heart in the hard of heart. True its only for his own family he is concerned so far but it is still the beginning of compassion, of active concern for the needs of others. When the spring of compassion is released the human chasm, the ego, the isolated self, is reconnected. In reconnection (the literal meaning of the word ‘religion’) the great healing happens.
 

With love
Laurence
 
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