Monday, September 30, 2013

The Poor Man's Heaven. The Rich Man's Hell

Lazarus and the Rich Man

There is a lot of talk about religion out there.  What passes for Christianity in some quarters not only bears no resemblance to the Founder's vision of faith, it is down right immoral.

The current crop of right wing religionists in the House of Representatives deny food stamps to the poor in direct contradiction to the Founder's admonition; "Feed My Sheep". (John 21).

Now they want to deny health care to the poor and the 48 million Americans who have no health care, in direct contradiction to the Founder's admonition; "visit the sick in their distress". (Matthew 25:36)

It is fitting that the Gospel for this last Sunday would be the famous story of the rich man and Lazarus. They both died. But the rich man went into Hades (an interesting Greek concept for the afterlife) and Lazarus, the poor man went into the bosom of Abraham where he was comforted and filled with good things.

When the rich man begs Lazarus to send someone from the dead to tell us about the consequences of our behavior in this life, Lazarus explains that a great chasm separates the rich from the poor; and Heaven from Hell. And so it does. The great chasm between the rich and the poor is exceeded only by the chasm between the poor who are comforted in the bosom of Abraham and the rich who rest in torment.

Read the original if you don't believe me.

Let us pray for the rich and the poor in this country that we may find a way to close the chasm to make the salvation of all possible. Read these words carefully. If ever there were a headline for America to read today, this is it!

Religionists, please take note.

Luke 16:19-31

The Rich Man and Lazarus

 ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He 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.” But 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. Besides 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.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He 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.” 


Mr. Mcgranor said...

Feed them with church charity; care for them with church hospitals. Why is that not feasible? It is not Christ's fault, nor the right-wing. So now after the wreckage is done to the churches, you want to Government to be the Church?

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Thank you for your comment Mr. Mcgranor...there is a chilly and cold hearted attitude toward the poor these days and confess that this comment reflects some of that attitude. I for one would distance myself from it. Far from "wreck" the church, our work with the homeless and hungry helped to galvanize us for mission and ministry. Still, there are the millions more for which the churches have scant resources. As for me and my house, we are only too glad to share of our bounty with those less fortunate...particularly for the working poor...of which there are that they can have food on the table, a roof over their heads, and health care for when they turn sick. Why is that so hard for a nation with such a good heart as our own? Or have we grown cold?