Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.He fleshed out the Epistle by relating an anecdotal story of someone he knew who had lost both wealth and family, and who eventually was brought closer to the ideal of "setting one's hopes on God" instead of on "the uncertainty of riches."
But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
I really would have liked some commentary on the Gospel for today, Luke 16:19-31 with its rather graphic images of Hades.
It is currently unfashionable to talk about the reality of Hades. I guess preachers might be afraid they will scare people off with stories of eternal torment, flames etc. After all, God loves us and wouldn't allow such a place to exist...right???
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’
And where did Jesus get the notion that there was a great fixed chasm between those in Hades and those that have been spared? The chasm won't even allow a moment of mercy to be performed for the one being tormented.
The final sentence of the story speaks to an awful truth. Many today would discount the teachings of the Old Testament as products of a primitive culture. We have all heard the talk about how the O.T. was written to keep women in their place. We have all heard the talk about the O.T. as myth. We have even heard the talk that Moses, when he came down from the mountain, made all those laws by himself.
Yes, we are guilty of not listening to Moses and the prophets. Is it any wonder that people deny the resurrection? I hate to do this to you, but here is what the nefarious Episcopal Bishop (ret.) John Shelby Spong who denies a physical resurrection of Jesus concludes,
"The Easter story appears to have grown rather dramatically over the years. Something happened after the crucifixion of Jesus that convinced the disciples that Jesus shared in the eternal life of God and was thus available to them as a living presence. This experience was so profound that the disciples, who at his arrest had fled in fear, were now reconstituted and empowered even to die for the truth of their vision. This experience had the power to force the Jewish disciples to redefine the God of the Jews so that Jesus could be seen as part of who God is. Finally this experience was so profound that it ultimately created, on the first day of the week, a new holy day that was quite different from the Sabbath, to enable Christians to mark this transforming moment with a liturgical act called 'the breaking of bread.'I understand that Bishop Waldo had only a limited time in his first sermon to us, and he did succeed in coming across as a nice guy, but he certainly missed a teachable moment when he ignored Jesus' images of Hades.
When these biblical data are assembled and examined closely, two things become clear. First something of enormous power gripped the disciples following the crucifixion that transformed their lives. Second, it was some fifty years before that transforming experience was interpreted as the resuscitation of a three days dead Jesus to the life of the world. Our conversation about the meaning of Easter must begin where these two realities meet." (From his web page)
I guess he didn't want to scare anyone off.
P.S. 09/28/2010 Fr. Matt Kennedy does an excellent job with his sermon on this parable. You can find it here. Thanks Fr. Matt!