Archdiocese News - FIFTH SUNDAY OF LUKE [English/Arabic]

[Arabic Version]

Many Reasons for Belief
“And He said unto Him, if they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded through one arose from the dead”. (Luke 16:19-31).

Today’s Gospel lesson, dear brethren, answers all the questions and doubts of those persons that disbelieve in the life after death. Man, always asks for proof concerning that life, especially nowadays. They want proof and arguments to persuade them to believe. This proof, we find in the Word of God delivered today, and we will now try to explain.

The Gospel relates the lives of two men, in a real-life situation. One was wealthy, a possessor of many material riches, but in spirit very poor. He had but one concern- to eat, drink, and sleep well, and to dress in the most expensive garb of his day…” (he) was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day”. He paid little, if any, attention to those affliction, and calamity that existed outside his door. He did not care for Lazarus the poor- the second figure in the Gospel story- who was full of sickness and in need of much. Lazarus was brought to the yard of the rich man to share the bones and left-overs with his dogs. The dogs of this wealthy man even provided him with a lesson in good behaviour towards less fortunate individuals. They licked the wounds of Lazarus and brought him some relief… “Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores”.

The stage-setting of life’s theatre did not remain unchanged for long. The Holy Gospel does not even mention the name or the age of the wealthy man. Perhaps the author preferred not to afford him such an honor as including his name in scripture. Lazarus died, and the angels of God received his soul, and brought it to the bosom of Abraham.

Perhaps all the poverty-stricken will enjoy the same good fortune? No, absolutely not. Many of the world’s poor, scourged by society, are the cause of their own poverty. They are poor because they do not have the ambition to better themselves. However, in the Gospel we encounter a good, kind individual, whose poverty is a result of and complicated by his illness. It is this type of poor that bear their cross with honesty and patience. It is oftentimes from the ranks of such poor families that are born the best citizens, well-educated and devoted to society. And, so often, the prototypes of man-wife relationships and parenthood are to be found amidst the destitute and poor. It is, of course, for this type of “poor” that today’s Gospel speaks.

A short while after the rich man died and was buried. Along with his body was buried his name and his wealth. He left nothing behind to remind posterity of his passing. Perhaps he had a few relatives or mistresses, who rather than pray for his soul cursed him for leaving not enough inheritance for them. Many similar cases appear in our newspapers today. The other day I read about such a case in a newspaper. An extremely wealthy man died in West Virginia and three women wanted to claim his inheritance, but none of them possessed the legal right.

Also mentioned in the Gospel are the five brothers of the wealthy man that perhaps lived a life equal to his… “For I have five brethren that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment”. They were prodigals, materialist, selfish, and lacking ideology or metaphysical proclivity. They had no moral purpose in life… “Eat and drink because tomorrow we die”.

Having died, the rich man attained not heaven, but its opposite place. There existed a great gap between when Lazarus was and where the rich man is. It was impossible for them to come into contact with one another. The rich man saw Lazarus and called out for his help. But, as Lazarus explained, the distance is too great, and there was nothing he could do. The rich man addressed Abraham and asked him to send a messenger from heaven to his brothers, and forewarn them to forsake their earthly goods or end up in the same situation. Abraham answered… “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them”. The rich man replied that his brothers pay no heed to the prophets. They want proof, he continued; for instance, if someone from the dead would speak to them-then they would believe.

Perhaps, you have made the same demand. You expect someone from the other life to reassure you that the struggle here is worthwhile. But are you certain that even then you would believe, and have no further problems or question? Are you not aware of what Paul says concerning the limitations in this life on the knowledge that we can attain? (1 Cor. 13: 12). In other words, now that we think that we see things through a blurred mirror, imperfect, as it were, we have many questions and unexplainable wonders. However, in the other life, we will see things clearer, because we shall see them directly; person to person. At this time, we can receive perfect knowledge, bestowed on us by God.

Is it not enough, dear brethren, for so many perfect events to persuade you for the other life? We witness also to the sermon on the Apostles, the blood of millions of martyrs that disregarded all persecution and suffering for the other life. They struggled to witness to Christ and His truth. Is not the wisdom of the Fathers sufficient? Do not the catacombs of the West and the East speak loudly enough for the eschatological theology of the Church? It is not possible that so much of the ecclesiastical writings on these subjects were written for naught. And what about the missionaries traveling throughout the world to preach this message. Have all our worships, liturgies, monasteries, churches, priests, and seminarians passed in vain? Certainly not! All these things have but one purpose- to improve man’s spiritual situation while on earth, in order to prepare him for life everlasting; to improve man so that through is participation in God’s goodness, he may become an inheritor of life everlasting.


From our Late Metropolitan Paul

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