Thursday, February 28, 2013
A Stark Choice
Today the readings really do present us a stark choice. Both the first reading and the psalm remind us of the contrast of those who live according to their own whims and those of others versus those that live according to the Will of God. The latter are vibrant and verdant, bearing fruit and having deep roots. The former barren and dead, a waste, like chaff blown in the wind. A stark choice indeed, but one that is also well hidden from the eyes of many who claim themselves to be their own master and are confirmed in their self centered choice by others who have made the same choice. This is clearly seen in the parable Jesus tells of the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus. All the while he was enjoying himself devouring sumptuous meals and dressing in fine clothing the Rich Man never thought of God nor his fellow man. Meanwhile Lazarus would be licked by the dogs, but men, society, totally ignored him. He could depend only on God. God was his only hope for he had been abandoned by men. In the end Lazarus went to Heaven because of his hope in God. Not because he was poor. The rich man went to Hell because he abandoned God while reveling or better yet wallowing in what God had created. Being rich does not gain one eternal life. Power does not gain one eternal life. Nor does beauty, fame, or any of the other things that people are caught up chasing in this world. There is a stark choice everyone is called to make in this life. Pursue your own wants and desires in a selfish, and egotistical way spurred on by the culture of death and its many proponents, or pursue virtue and holiness according to the teaching of Christ and His Bride the Church which is in fact the Will of God our Father. In the end the Rich Man wants his brothers to be told about what awaits them. He wants Lazarus to tell them by returning from the dead. For they like him refused to listen to their own culture and religion that comes from the Law and the Prophets. Abrahams response is frightening ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’ Why frightening? Jesus is telling this parable. He will suffer and die and rise again knowing that some will not listen to the Good News. What great love He has for us. Paying the cost even for those who would not listen, who will not listen. The choice is stark. We are free to chose now. We may not recognize how sweet the yoke of obedience is now. We may not realize how vibrent and joyful a life of faith really is to those who live it. But their will be a day, when we die or at the end of time, when the veil will be lifted and we will expeience our just reward. We will reap what we have sown. Selfishness and pride are hard things to shake, Obedience and virtue are hard things to practise. Lent calls us to turn form the former and diligently practice the latter. The disciplines of Lent show us the way. The choice is ours as stark as it is.