Pr. Bomberger preached to us this morning on last Sunday's Gospel: Lazarus and the Rich Man (er, men, Abraham being a rich man too). He left us in the full discomfort of that Gospel, its radical challenge to us. As he was preaching two ahas:
First: A great gulf (chasm) has been fixed
Fixed by whom? BY THE RICH MAN. It's the same as his gate that kept Lazarus at bay. He wanted to be alone. He barricaded himself from others. Finally, they couldn't reach him no matter how much they wanted to.
Second: In this life you received your good things.
YOUR good things. The stuff that he thought was good: the fine chow and flashy duds and the nice house. But he didn't receive God's good things: the gift of His words (Moses and the Prophets) nor the gift of the brother to love. Lazarus was God's gift to the Rich Man, to coax him out of the isolation he was building around himself.
Pastor ended the chapel homily in the most stunning way. He cited our Lord's Word: "The poor you have with you always..." Left unsaid, "but you will not always have me." We heard it in our heads, but only there. And it was totally effective: I know it was for me.
The poor are here right now to love. The poor are just whoever in need God puts along our path to draw us out of our isolation and into love. Love, heaven, it is together: Lazarus and angels and Abraham and that is comfort and joy! Did you notice that the rich man didn't even ask to get out of the place he was in? He just wanted that place to be more comfortable. Send Lazarus to ease my thirst.
So much to think about. Jesus gives us good things: His Word in Moses and the Prophets AND the people he surrounds us with to pull us out of the hell of our internal obsessions. The One who is raised from the dead won't convince anyone who won't listen to the Word, but if we listen to the Word we hear the Risen One's voice bidding us stop the digging of our isolating trenches and inviting us into life. Together. The picture of what Church is meant to be: the family of faith where no one is alone. No one. Today you will be with me in paradise!