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Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for these moments of prayer. I value this time you have given me to grow in intimacy with you. Please speak clearly to my soul this day.
- Vivid Imagery: Jesus boldly addressed this parable to the Pharisees who were rich, wore fine garments, and dined sumptuously each day. He couldn’t have been clearer in his warning to them. They needed to amend their lives or face eternity on the wrong side of the chasm. Jesus was calling them out for mistreating the Jews in their care. The Pharisees were figuratively stepping over Lazarus every time they “tied up heavy burdens hard to carry and laid them on people’s shoulders, but they wouldn’t lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:4). During his three-year ministry, Jesus repeatedly chastised the Pharisees, bluntly criticized them, challenged their power in front of the people, and probably embarrassed them in moments like these. His was not a political power grab, however. Jesus had one concern: to save every Pharisee guilty of hypocrisy from eternal damnation. His only motivation was love for souls.
- The Time is NOW: Although this parable was addressed to the Pharisees, we would be mistaken to let this opportunity for a humble self-examination pass us by. When we feel irritating pinpricks to our conscience or perhaps sense that Our Lord is inviting us to a major course correction, our proper response is to repent, seek sacramental forgiveness, and do penance. “My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12). How grateful we are for the grace we receive through the sacrament of Reconciliation!
- No Second Chances: The rich man pleaded with Abraham for another chance for his brothers, and even vouched for them, claiming, “if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” He actually hoped an emissary would change his brothers’ minds. Abraham reminded him, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.” We are blessed by the Old Testament prophets, and even more so by our faith in Jesus, who we know died for our sins and has risen from the dead. Since there are no second chances after death, may we take every opportunity to be Christ’s hands and feet to preach, teach, heal, and intercede for souls we encounter today who are deaf to the Word of God.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, through this parable you remind me to keep my eyes on eternity. May I always act out of love for you and for your glory, remembering that the resources you have given me are for the good of others. Enkindle in my heart a burning desire to reach out in your name to souls in need of your love and friendship.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look for an opportunity to speak of my love for you to someone I encounter.
For Further Reflection: May we say with St. Thérèse, “I was born for glory…I still am weak and imperfect. I always feel, however, the same confidence of becoming a great saint because I don’t count on my merits, since I have none, but I trust in him who is Virtue and Holiness. God alone, content with my weak efforts, will raise me to himself and make me a saint, clothing me in his infinite merits.”
Maribeth Harper celebrated paying the last tuition bill for her kids’ college by writing a book for moms who have college-aged young adults, And So We Pray, Guidance for Moms with College-Aged Young Adults. She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four, and grandmother of nine and counting. (Happy fourth birthday, Thomas!)