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

Two days ago we heard Jesus tell the Pharisees the story of the rich man and the poor, sick beggar, Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31).  While alive, the rich man lived well, never taking notice of the decrepit mendicant at his gate.  First Lazarus, then the rich man, dies.  Lazarus is carried to Abraham’s bosom while the rich man is tortured by fire in the netherworld.  Seeing the two of them far off, the rich man begs for a drop of water but does not receive even this relief.  Then he asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn the rich man’s brothers so that they might avoid the torment their sibling is enduring.  Abraham ends with the words at top.  An obvious allusion to Jesus’ forthcoming death.  While the Pharisees studied Moses and the other prophets of the Old Testament (as should we), as of yet did not have that event as an historical reality.  We, on the other hand, have had if for nearly two thousand years.  What is our excuse for endangering our immortal souls due to worldly pleasures?  Do we not believe the reality of torment in the next world, whether it be in purgatory or hell?  Even if we begin only with a servile fear of punishment, God can start to work on us from that point.  Of course, where we want to get to is rejection of sin purely out of love of God and the desire not to offend Him.  But that is a work in progress for us all, maybe a lifetime of work.  The good news is that Jesus meets us where we’re at but loves us too much to let us stay there.  His offer of grace and mercy goes far beyond anything we can do wrong.  But we must sincerely ask for these blessings and continue to forsake sin so that we are more open to receiving the good gifts God freely gives.

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