“The Rich and the Poor”

Luke 16: 19-31

Between yesterday’s story about the shrewd manager and today’s story about a rich man and a poor man, Luke whispers an aside to let us know he is shifting direction.  He reminds us that the kingdom of heaven, God’s way, has been preached by the law and the prophets from the very beginning.  Lent is not a new message that suddenly appeared as a spiritual challenge.  In the law, Ten Commandments, God tells us how life works best … but we don’t follow them.  We don’t love God with our whole heart, mind and strength and we do not love our neighbor as our self.  Prophets have spoken through out history calling people back to God.  We cannot claim, “We did not know the gun was loaded.”  Ignorance is not an excuse.  Luke then relates a story Jesus told.

         A rich man lived in luxury and ignored the poor man living at his gate.  They both die.  Here the story twists.  The poor man is in paradise, in “the bosom of Abraham,” where we expect to find good people, surely the rich man.  The rich man however dies and goes to Hades, where we think bad people go.  We know of no crime the rich man did in his lifetime and we are surprised this man who seemed so blessed is now suffering.  The man calls out to Abraham and begins to bargain for help.  Even as he was seemingly insensitive to the poor man, Abraham is insensitive to this man. What’s the deal?  First, Abraham cannot send the poor man with water to ease suffering for there is a chasm between them.  The door has been closed.  Nor will Abraham send the poor man back to life to warn the rich man’s brothers.  The rich man reasoned that someone from the dead will convince them.  Abraham gives the chilling response.  If we cannot listen to the testimonies of Moses and the prophets, we will not listen to someone raised from the dead.  The coming resurrection of Jesus who will walk through death is foreshadowed.  Will we believe him. The rich man is not condemned for not sharing his wealth but for not listening.  The kingdom of God will belong to people who are in relationship to God.

         So what touches my heart today and can cause me to repent and turn to the cross?  Who do I allow to speak into my life?  Is there someone I can turn to for spiritual direction?  God’s kingdom will not be forced on us.  God’s kingdom is not the reward for a life lived making smart financial decisions but is a place where relationships developed in life are lived to complete fulfillment.  Perhaps write down the names of three people who have helped you spiritually and perhaps write a letter or text or call one of them to say, thank you!  Blessings.

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