“MOSES AND THE PROPHETS TESTIFY OF JESUS”
Saint Luke 16. 19-31
1st Sunday after Trinity: 2 June Anno Domini 2013
Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus said the second commandment was like the first—love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus is God and His words are true. His words here are commandments which mean that they’re not suggestions. Jesus said “do them and live.” Do them not, and you are not just dead, but damned to hell.
No, you, that is, your re-generated “new creation in Christ” is NOT the “rich man.” But, your old-Adam remaining sinful-self IS most assuredly like the rich man.
Jesus tells a story. Is it true? Well of course it’s true since Jesus is THE TRUTH enfleshed and His words are truth. Is it a parable or is it history? Why do you want to know? What difference does it make for what the Lord wishes to give to you?
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar” speaks Jesus through the pen of His Apostle Saint John. Jesus also said that anyone who hates his brother from the heart is a murderer.
You are all, by Jesus’ standards, haters, murderers, and liars. Repent of your eye-rolling, smirking, anger and resentment of your neighbor. Repent of your racism, harpy-like gossip tongues and need to control and dominate others.
You are the rich man to almost anyone else who doesn’t have as much as you have. You share not, and you care not, because you love not as He first loved you! You are fearful of not having enough, of running out, of being destitute. Your faith weakens at times and you misuse the Scriptures and Sacraments by absenting yourselves from their presence. And so, you build bigger barns to hold your “stuff,” your mammon, while tonight your soul may be required of you—like it was of the “rich man.”
When Lazarus died he was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom. As the Lord said to Moses from the bush that burned but was not consumed “I AM;” and as the same Lord, incarnate from the root of Jesse by the Virgin that gave birth but whose virginity was not consumed, “God is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Abraham is not dead but alive in Christ. Abraham’s sprit is with Jesus awaiting the final trumpet! Even as the Apostle John rested his own head on Jesus’ bosom during the first Eucharist, “Abraham’s bosom” is a way of saying: “safe with Jesus” waiting the day of the resurrection of all flesh—secure and in peace.
Lazarus did not go to heaven BECAUSE he was a beggar for food, medicine, clothes, or human companionship; he went to heaven because he begged for God’s mercy as a repentant sinner who knew that all good things come from the God Who is love. Even during his life Lazarus had angels, the Lord’s Old Testament Prophets and New Testament disciples/messengers, bring him daily to Abraham’s bosom—the Word of Jesus: “repent and believe, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
When the rich man died he was drug by demons to Satan’s bosom—he went to hell: “being in torments.” In life the rich man, he did it all. He ate; he dressed in kingly colored linen; he dined sumptuously every day; he lifted his finger to his servants and they jumped; and he ignored his neighbor. Unclean dogs, fellow mongrels with the poor man, showed more love and compassion to than this rich man. But he did not go to hades because he was rich but because he did not believe Moses and the Prophets. He rejected the Christ of God, Jesus, because He rejected the Word of God; the words of God!
Even in torments the rich man still presumes, still is requesting, and still is expecting Lazarus to “do for him and his brothers.” Lazarus does not see the rich man or the torments for Lazarus “is comforted.” Lazarus does not demand or speak for he is still listening to Moses and the Prophets as they all together, with all the Saints under the altar of Revelation, are too busy praying for the Lord’s return: Maranatha! Lazarus is surrounded by the Seraphs singing the Sanctus and the rich man is surrounded by the wails and gnashing of teeth.
Moses and the Prophets gave and preached the Law to be sure. But the 10 Commandments never save, never can save. The Law only kills. Lazarus too broke the law and died. Only the Gospel of Jesus saves, because only Jesus saves! To know of this God/Man and His work, He gives the good message, the Evangel.
The Christ Who tells this truthful story tells you the truth: “You have Moses and the prophets; hear them!” Moses in his Pentateuch preached the sweetest gospel of the forgiveness of sins and the merciful and long-suffering God of love. The prophets likewise shared the pure remission of sins for the sake of the suffering servant Messiah. The Hebrew Scriptures are overflowing with Christ Jesus.
Jesus said to the hypocritical “rich men” who were persecuting Him by rejecting Him: “…ye have not His word abiding in you…search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me.” [Jn 5. 38-40] Jesus meant Moses and the Prophets. For in the Hebrew words of the Pentateuch there is Jesus with forgiveness, life and salvation. To the Emmaus disciples Jesus spoke: “…then He said unto them, o fools, and slow of heart to believe All that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things…and beginning at Moses and ALL the Prophets, He expounded unto them in ALL the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” [Lk 24. 25-27] For in the Hebrew words of Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Nahum, Habakkuk and all the rest, there is Jesus with forgiveness, life and salvation.
The rich man wanted a miracle. The rich man was like the Pharisees who demanded a sign. He was like a Greek, or an American, who demanded evidence in the way of verifiable science and empirical proof. If seeing the Lord bring Mary and Martha’s brother back to life wasn’t proof enough for hardened hearts that rejected Life and Light (c.f. John 1) than Easter morning miracles and trips to the netherworld with water on finger tips, or visions to brothers, would not be proof enough. The only proof is the Word of God which brings Jesus the Word made flesh. The Holy Ghost does not work through the signs and wonders demanded by rich men or the rich man of your falleness. The Spirit draws, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and saves through the Word of Jesus in Scripture and through the only signs and wonders that there are—the Blessed Sacraments of Baptism, Absolution and Supper—the Word attached to elements.
If one does not hear Moses and the Prophets during this life, that is, Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of your sins, then one will be in flame. The only water to quench a hot tongue and a guilty conscience is the water of rebirth through the Word which flows from Jesus’ mouth and His riven side, into + the font…from the Blood flowing from His precious Body into the Chalice.
The unbelieving rich man glories in his riches unto damnation. But you glory in the loving kindness and righteousness of the Lord.
And now the angels carry your forward to eat and drink peace and joy with Moses, ALL the Prophets, the Blessed Virgin, Saint John the Theologian, Saint Peter, prince of the Apostolic band, Jacob, Isaac, and Father Abraham. They all testified to Jesus. So now receive Jesus. Your sins are forgiven.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost