26th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Do you know who your god is? Who is your god? Are you sure who your god is?
In today’s gospel Jesus tells us about a very, very rich man. He dressed in the finest purple garments and linen. Purple dye was extremely rare and expensive. It was obtained from the shellfish murex. A purple mantle was very costly as well. Finely-woven linen was considered the height of luxury in his day.
And he must have been a very rich man who apparently didn’t need to work because he was able to feast sumptuously every day. We could say this rich man was a connoisseur of threads and cuisine. He prided himself in wearing the finest clothes and feasting on the finest cuisine. We can imagine him carrying himself with grace and standing aloof among his friends, as if to say notice my fine threads.
And when he dined, I suspect he was extremely aware of those who watched as he presented each morsel of food before consuming it with great drama. What would we say is his sin?
Being rich in it self is not a sin!! Even being so rich one does not have to work is in itself not a sin! Enjoying a sumptuous feast in itself is not a sin! So if it isn’t his fine threads or the fine cuisine that were the source of his sin – what is the underlying source of his sin? Can we name the fundamental sin of the rich man?
Could the rich man’s sin have something to do with the poor man, covered with sores, who was lying at his door step every day? Lazarus was his name. Lazarus is short for Eleazar. A name that means “He (whom) God helps,” Every day this poor man was lying at the rich mans door begging for sustenance. The poor man was not a pretty sight to behold with open sores covering his body. The rich managed to ignore Lazarus yet the local dogs came to the poor man to lick his sores.
Lazarus was not a pretty sight to behold. We could conclude the rich man be that he suffered from severe spiritual blindness and deafness? The poor man Lazarus was there everyday at his doorway. The rich man had to almost step over and walk past this pitiful Lazarus lying at his door step. He acted like he did not exist. He did not see or hear him even though Lazarus surely begged for food?
Laser Focus on Stealth Blindness
The rich man invented the first laser and stealth technology. He was so focused on himself there was no room for the poor man to exist. The rich man was focused like a laser on his fine threads and anticipating satisfying his taste buds on the fine cuisine he would enjoy each day.
Lazarus was mealy a minor distraction. I suspect in the rich man’s mind, no one was looking at Lazarus because the world was looking at him, dressed in the finest linen. In the rich man’s mind, even Lazarus yearned to emulate the rich mans dress and one day hoped to dine on the crumbs from the sumptuous meal he would enjoy.
I ask again, what is the rich mans sin that lies below the surface that blinds and deafens the rich mans spirit? This rich man has a severe spiritual handicap – what is it? We hear both men died. The rich man is known as the one “Who Never Noticed” Lazarus was at his door every day.
The rich man, locked him out!
Listen again to the beauty of the death of Lazarus. Jesus describes angels lifting and carrying Lazarus to the bosom of Abraham. The poor man then rested in the bosom of Abraham. What is described would have been clearly understood by the people of Jesus day. It was an ancient banqueting practice, were the honored quest would recline one’s head on renowned figures breast at the banquet table.
The picture painted by Jesus puts Lazarus in the place of honor at the right hand of Abraham at the banquet in the next world. The rich man and the poor man’s fortunes are reversed after death. Simultaneously the rich man is suffering, his lips are parched with thirst, his tongue is hot and dry, and he is in great discomfort.
The Greek verb used here is odunao, “to undergo physical torment, ‘suffer pain.’ “The source of the suffering is fire. Then he sees the above scenario – at last he has eyes and can see and ears to hear. The rich man cries out to Abraham, have Lazarus dip his finger in water and come over and touch my tongue.
The rich finally confesses he was aware of Lazarus existence and calls him by name. Abraham responds to the rich man. “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
Again, I ask what was the rich mans sin? What was the sin that earned him eternal damnation? The rich man turned his threads and cuisine into god and he worship at there table. Tough they were without life and could not save him, he worshiped them.
Do not have false gods before me. I am the Lord thy and there is no other. The question we are called to examine today is who is our god and who is the Lazarus standing in our door way?
I have discovered in my life, I have many gods. So many gods in fact it can be scary. Those who know me, know I have my deer hunting god, my racing pigeon god, my ham radio god, my gym god – I benched pressed 225 pounds the day I died, my jogging god who lead to run a marathon, my software development work god – installing the program I created in all of the busiest airports in the nation.
And new gods are being born every day. I now have my face book and web page god to boot! I believe there are now more gods than ever before in the history of man.
Think about all the gods families deal with every day. Moms, dads, children have their technology battery draining gods. We call them a computer, igames, xbox, iphone, ipod, ipad, blackberry, texting – phew!
And we still have the good old reliable TV with awful reality programs no child should watch. Think about it, all these technology monsters without life that have no power to save us from damnation are consuming our time.
People have begun to enter and live in cyber space and often do not come up for real air. Any wonder our nation is growing obese so fast? Who is the Lazarus standing in our doorway? In our day many Lazarus’s live inside of homes of active families. They are moms, dads and children, even grandparents have been taken hostage.
Are we like the rich man and traded in living breathing people for inanimate technology that can not save us? Children today are growing up without learning social skills and how to play or deal with real live people.
Do we have the courage to ask? What story are we entering into? The story of salvation history where we encounter the one true God who sent His Son to save us from our sin or are we willing to step into cyber space where real people are replaced with lifeless indulgence?
How many gods do you have? Which of those gods can save you?