Saturday, September 28, 2019

Proper 21 - Pentecost 16

Proper 21 – Pentecost 16
Luke 16:19-31 
29 September 2019

Grant O Lord, that as Your Son Jesus Christ prayed for His enemies on the cross, so we may have grace to forgive those who wrongfully or scornfully use us, that we ourselves may be able to receive Your forgiveness. To that end, Lord Jesus, bless Thy Word that we may trust in Thee. Amen. 1

Jesus continues to explain to us what it means to be merciful. He shows us the gracious, generous heart of the Father who is kindhearted. Full of compassion. 

As we hear the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the words of the Magnificat; the song of Mary, come to mind, “He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has sat down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away.” (Luke 1:46-55)   

Paul warns us concerning wealth. “Not to be haughty, nor to set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches,” but “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:17–18). Covetous desire for what God has not given is idolatry and “a root of all kinds of evils.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Contentment belongs to faith. By which the Christian has “great gain” in godliness. (1 Timothy 6:6). Neither poverty nor riches are virtues! Your best life now is an American religion.

A certain rich man dressed in purple, living splendidly in fine linen feasts lavishly every day. At his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus. A meager beggar. Covered with sores. Lazarus finds himself at the rich man's gate.   Lazarus only desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. 

The rich man's neglect of Lazarus signals his failure to "make friends for himself when the day of changed circumstances comes and worldly wealth shall fail.” That critical day. When circumstances change awaits us all. Lazarus is carried away to Abraham’s side. The rich man too is buried.

The Rich man now begs for what he did not give; mercy, care, relief from suffering.  He cried "Kyrie Eleison! Lord, have mercy!" but did NOT receive it. He still thinks Lazarus is there to serve him! 

Note the contrast. Lazarus is given a name. Which literally means, "He (whom) God helps."  The rich man is simply plopped into the ground. 

‘Our whole Christian life should be forgiving debts: money, sins, whatever.  Some debts are small. Others huge! Some debts we treat as only a trifle. Hardly a drop in the bucket. So insignificant we scarcely and barely take notice.   Others leave scares, which last a lifetime.

There is only one way forward. The debts of our enemies must be treated as the debts of the poor. Our enemies will not have enough to pay us. If these debts cannot be paid (and they can’t), then they can only be forgiven. And here we come to the verse from Proverbs: “He who gives to the poor makes a debtor of God.” The Scriptures add: “And He will pay him.”(Proverbs 19:17)’ 2 

Lazarus. Forsaken. Ignored. Forgotten. Reminds us of that One man, that certain One who, “was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; Surely he has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5

The point of the parable is to warn the self-centered. And point to the Scriptures as the only resource for planning ahead. Worldly wealth failed, showing the need for a better, more lasting basis of hope. Our only hope is in Christ. Who went to the cruel and bloody cross. And then rose again from the dead. 

The written word of God. The law and the prophets. Are all we have. God's Word is now available. It calls us to faith. It will not fail.  It is Christ's testimony to the judgment and salvation that He will work for you.  His Word abides when all fails. It is eternal. His promise of salvation creates saving faith. His Word reveals His plan for eternity.
Words – 775
Passive Sentences –8% 
Readability – 81.6%
Reading Level – 4.0 

llustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.
1 Collect for Friday of Lent 2,
2 Pr. Ken Kelly, from a homily for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity - Johnstown PA

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