Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Second Thursday of Lent

I am posting a bit early for Thursday.  Will celebrate Mass for the Carmelites of the Aged and Infirm Thursday morning at 7:45 AM and again on Friday.  On Friday I will then head to PA for 52 hours of continuing medical education.  Am preparing to reactivate licenses in MA and PA.  Need 100 hours before I can send in the application.  Fifty-two hours in "class" from Sunday at 4 PM to Friday at noon.  As I don't need all of the hours to go over the 100 mark there are one or two things I will skip, perhaps four or five hours worth.  While I don't need all the credits I will most likely need a beer.

The parable in the Gospel is that of Dives and Lazarus.  The British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams wrote a very pretty tone poem on this reading.  I've listened to it multiple times but am not sure it is sufficiently programmatic that I can recognize the parable in the music.  Nonetheless, it is pleasant.

Jer 17:5-10
Ps 1:1-2, 2,3,4 and 6
Lk 16:19-31

This particular parable, The Rich Man and Lazarus, is unique to Luke’s Gospel.  It is sometimes referred to as the parable of Dives and Lazarus.  The names are important though only one of them appears in Luke’s Gospel.

Lazarus, the poor man’s name, is derived from the Hebrew El azar which means, “God has helped.”  Obviously the name is no accident.  “When the poor man died he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.”  God indeed had helped him. Tradition, rather than Luke, gave the rich man the name Dives.  Dives is a Latin adjective for rich.  Thus Dives and Lazarus:  The Rich Man and the “One God has helped.” 

The first part of the parable describes a reversal of fortune.  Lazarus, the poor man, was carried to Abraham’s bosom while after his death, Dives, the man who had it all, was tormented in the netherworld.  The second half of the parable is a conversation between the rich man and Abraham.  It is an instructive conversation.  

Dives is not portrayed here as a particularly wicked man.  He is not malevolent.  He dressed well.  He ate a rich diet.  He was comfortable, a man enjoying the rewards of his hard work.  The rich man was not evil.  He was oblivious.  He was oblivious to the suffering around him.  He didn’t notice it.  Lazarus—like the poor in our streets today—was part of the landscape, passed by, stepped over or avoided by crossing the street.  The rich man bore him no real hostility   Lazarus was simply there.   Unseen.  Ignored.

Dives is not without merit.  He accepts that Lazarus cannot cross the chasm to ease his thirst without protest, argument or pleading.  But he wants to prevent his still living brothers, who are apparently as oblivious as he was, from suffering the same fate.  It can’t be done.  If his brothers won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.  Just like Dives and his brothers we have Moses and the Prophets.  Unlike this rich man and his brothers we also have Jesus who did rise from the dead.  Why do we not listen either?
The urge to prayer is universal.  All religions have modes of prayer and prayers that are characteristic.  Some are more well-known than others.  The first is a man and a woman in the adoration chapel at the National Shrine in D.C.  I posted this before but this is a bit of a reworking with Aperture 3. 

A very old Jesuit in Australia at prayer before the evening community Mass. 

A much younger Jesuit doing his evening meditation at Sevenhill, SA, Australia.

A couple at prayer in Longshan Temple in the old section of Taipei.  This was New Year's Eve 2010.  Ignatius and I wisely decided against going to Taipei 101, once the tallest building in the world.  There were approximately 2 million people there.  

This is the Nan Tien Monastery Berkley, NSW, Australia not too far from Wollangong.  It is a Taiwanese Buddhist monastery, the largest monastery in the southern hemisphere.  Here a nun is ringing one of the bells with what looks like a sawed off telephone pole.  

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

No comments:

Post a Comment