Homily for the twenty-sixth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 16:19-31
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" «There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom.

" «The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'» "



Homily:


" «There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores.» "

Here Jesus tells us a new parable, that of Lazarus and the evil rich man! This parable is most probably addressed to the Pharisees who scoffed at Jesus (cf. Lk. 16:14). As a matter of fact, Jesus begins by responding to them as follows: "The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently." (Lk. 16:16) As we see, he has set the tone for what follows: gaining eternal salvation is nothing to scoff at! Everyone must violently force his way into the Kingdom of God!

Did the rich man of whom Jesus speaks in the parable struggle violently? Did he worry about his soul during his life on earth? Or did he allow himself to enjoy every pleasure and luxury? Didn't Jesus say that he was someone who "was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day"? Yes, without any doubt, the evil rich man was not on the way to salvation... Let us not forget what the Lord said: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Mt. 7:13-14)

" «Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.'» "

Neither should we forget this sentence: "Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us." That is, at the very moment of death, the soul is judged on its acts, and if it is condemned by God, this sentence is irrevocable! He who is condemned by God is condemned forever: he is condemned to an eternal hell! "Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed!" At the moment of death, everything is settled once and for all: he who is condemned, is condemned forever, and he who is saved, is saved for all eternity!
 
" «And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'» "

Alas! It is true! It is not miracles that convert men! For miracles frighten those who still don't believe in the Lord! And faith cannot emerge from fear, for God is all Love! Miracles are there in order to help believers in their faith, but miracles can only help men to convert themselves by consolidating that same conversion. Thus, the Roman centurion who was present at the death of the Lord had converted in his heart even before hearing the earth tremble (cf. Mt. 27:54).

It is not miracles that convert men, but rather the grace of God received by a humble and contrite heart. And how else can one gain this humility of heart if not through the practice of obedience, through the observance of the Law of God: "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." The true sons of God, the true sons of Abraham, are those who practice "the obedience of faith" (Rm. 1:5).

" «And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'» "

The Lord insists on this! He returns a second time to this supposed conversion through miracles and extraordinary events! The Lord insists on this, for he knows of all the deceptions and illusions of the devil in these very delicate matters! For, let us not forget what Saint Paul reminds us: "He who through faith is righteous shall live! (Habakuk 2:4)" (Rm. 1:17; Ga. 3:11) The life of a Christian is a life of faith! That is the whole of our work during this life on earth: to believe always and forever! "Then they said to Jesus, «What must we do, to be doing the works of God?» Jesus answered them, «This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.»" (John 6:28-29)

Let us celebrate this Eucharistic celebration with faith! Is the Eucharist not the Mystery of Faith? Let us ask Mary to help us believe in God: She has never stopped believing in her Son Jesus!
 

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