“If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

Today’s gospel from Luke (16:19-31) is the well-known story, related by Jesus to the Pharisees, of Lazarus and the rich man (sometimes named “Dives” which is Latin for “rich”).  Lazarus is the poor beggar ignored by Dives in life but confronted with him after both have died.  Dives begs Abraham, who holds Lazarus in his bosom, to send Lazarus to his brothers so they can avoid the same sin that caused the torment Dives is now experiencing.  Abraham closes his response with the headline of this post.  Of course, in this story (not necessarily a parable — but that is for another time) we can seed that Jesus is alluding to His forthcoming resurrection from the dead.  But for his hearers at the time, referring to the poor man as “Lazarus” would certainly have made the Pharisees think about Jesus raising His beloved friend Lazarus from the dead (see Jn 11:1-46, esp. v. 46 when the event was reported to the Pharisees on which “from that day on they planned to kill him” [v. 53]).  Jesus, never shy about confronting the Pharisees, again makes them consider their attitude toward Him.  And it should make us consider our attitude toward Christ as well.  As Christians we believe that Jesus rose from the dead — it is indispensable to our faith (see 1 Cor 15:12-20).  But do we listen to Moses, the prophets, and the one to whom they pointed?  Remeber Jesus words in Matthew to those He welcomes into the Kingdom: “For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.” (Mt 25: 35-36)  Are we persuaded to live a life cognizant of our need to perform these corporal works of mercy?  How might we better use our time, talents, and treasure to help not only the physical necessities of the downtrodden, but also their spiritual needs?  In addition, what are we doing to call out and correct injustice in society?  Lent is a wonderful time to reflect on our role in helping “these my least brethren” (Mt 25:40).

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