26th Sunday, Year C
Luke 16:19-31 The rich man and Lazarus
Here we come face to face with the concepts of Heaven and Hell in the teaching of Jesus Christ. Imagine that – the Catholic Church didn’t make it up!
Most people refuse to believe that a loving God could allow such a reality as Hell.
But it’s not about God.
It’s about you and me, and the choices we make.
The rich man could have taken Lazarus out of his suffering. He could have lifted him up, treated his sores, gave him food and shelter, but he chose not to. He chose to leave Lazarus in his personal hell.
Now all this gives rise to a basic question about our world.
Is there justice?
The first thing to note is that we all want justice.
We all have a sense of what’s fair … but where does it come from?
Even the most notorious prisoners – who’d been anything but fair to others – had a sense of fairness when it came to their own lives. (I served as a prison chaplain for a number of years)
We all have a sense of fairness but we’re not always fair! But where does it come from?
It’s the presence of God in us.
In other words, our human words and language, our desires, are reflections of eternal realities.
This of course is one of C.S. Lewis’ great arguments for God.
The second thing to note is that we do attempt to create justice but often our attempts are at best approximations.
How can we give justice to the families of missing persons?
How can we give justice to the families of murder victims? Can we give them back to their families? Approximations!
How can we give justice to a young terminally ill mother of 4 children or to her husband and children? We can’t – but we do try!
The simple truth is; life is not fair. We try to make it fair … but it’s not fair.
Of course, life would be much fairer if we just observed the Ten Commandments! But it still wouldn’t be fair.
Unless there’s an after-life, a putting to rights beyond our immediate grasp, a transformation of the human (prefigured in the risen body of Christ still bearing the marks of his suffering), realities that we call heaven, purgatory and hell, then there is no true justice.
But worse still, the world, our lives, everything is ultimately meaningless.
We are going nowhere, absolutely nowhere!