Thursday, in the second week of Lent, Father Rob from St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, offered the following homily during the weekday Holy Eucharist at the Cathedral. If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend Eucharist during the week, Lent is a good time to try. Monday through Friday, beginning at 12:05 p.m., this quiet, reverent, intimate service gives us time to pray and celebrate Holy Eucharist with clergy from all over the Central Florida Diocese. This past Thursday, Father Rob’s homily was as poignant as it was charming. Don’t miss the quote at the end by the band 4 Him. It’s gorgeous!
Ashlie Darley, Librarian
The Yergey Library
Billy Ray Valentine rolled up to Randolph and Mortimer Duke on an old piece of plywood with wheels on the bottom, and cried out, Merry Christmas, Viet Nam did this to me but I’m not bitter; spare change? Then one of the Duke Brothers smacked him on the head and said, I have no money to give you. And a doorman rolled Billy Ray away from the entrance while Billy Ray protested, I really don’t appreciate this.
That’s the opening scene from the movie Trading Places starring Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy. I thought about that scene when I read this parable. Lazarus, broken and battered, at the rich man’s gate, While he, in his purple robes ate well, All the while, refusing to help the poor man at his doorstep. And like Lazarus, in the end of the movie, Billy Ray is given a life of luxury, a beautiful yacht in the Caribbean While the duke brothers end up out on the street and homeless Absolutely convinced that they did nothing wrong .
It seems that even when they lost everything, they still didn’t get it. I read this passage to a friend the other day and asked them what they thought it meant. The rich man didn’t take care of Lazarus so he was banished to hell. But then they paused and continued, Wait, that can’t be right. That sounds like the rich man had to earn his way into heaven Isn’t that works righteousness? That is the potential problem that people sometimes glean from these words We know, absolutely, that our entrance into heaven cannot be earned. It cannot be bought. But no matter...
For followers of Jesus...
The price has already been paid...
We are guaranteed a place at the table of the heavenly banquet Jesus Christ did that for us on the cross
So why is this rich man in Hell? Martin Luther described "the him" as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A man who appeared one way on the surface, but underneath was quite different. He looked nice, elegant clothes, beautiful home, great wealth, but he was missing a spiritual life. He could have read the scriptures. He could have listened to the teaching of the prophets. But he didn’t. Instead he chose to savor his riches and ignore God’s law. He was not what he appeared to be.
The great 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon said Those who choose evil shall have their choice. Men who hate divine mercy shall not have it forced upon them, but unless sovereign grace interpose, shall be left to themselves to aggravate their guilt and ensure their doom. They have loved darkness rather than light, and in darkness they shall abide. Eyes which see no beauty in the Lord Jesus, but flash wrath upon Him, may well grow yet more dim, till death which is spiritual leads to death which is eternal.
We get what we ask for. If we live in darkness, and embrace lust, pride, greed, envy, pride, and gluttony as the touchstones of our lives, we will go where that leads us. If we live in the light and embrace wisdom, understanding, courage, knowledge, reverence the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us by God, we will go where that leads us.
Live in the light... Or live in the dark... It is our choice... And in the end...
We will get what we ask for. We will get what we want. We will end up where we are headed. Let’s hope and pray, that we will not end up like the rich man Because you see, he just didn’t get it. Even as he burned in the fires of hell he demanded that Father Abraham, send Lazarus over here with a drink for me. Even in his greatest misery, he still saw Lazarus as worthless. Just another way to satisfy his selfish desires. He just didn’t get it. Because you see, Lazarus is important; Very important. In all of the parables of Jesus, Lazarus is the only one who is given a name. The rich man has no name, nor the prodigal son, or the woman at the well, or any other characters from the parables Lazarus stands alone... living in grace. One of Christ’s own... forever.
Jesus tells us in this passage, that in Lazarus received evil things during his life, but is now comforted in heaven.
Our God is merciful
And he grants comfort to the lowly
To the suffering... to the poor...
Not always on earth... but certainly, for all eternity
This isn’t the only time that Jesus gave this message to his followers. Earlier in the gospel of Luke, ten chapters back, he said this...
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. ‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. ‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. ‘Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. ‘Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
We do get to choose sides, and enjoy all the blessings or curses that come with our decision. And once that decision is made final, there is no turning back. We will get exactly what we ask for... When this rich man finally became aware of his eternal plight he made one final plea:
Send Lazarus 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. And father Abraham said, No! Your brothers have Moses and the Prophets They have free will. They can decide what they want. They can live in darkness or they can live in light and they will receive whatever they ask for.
And still the rich man didn’t get it. And neither did the rich man’s brothers. What is it that we really need? Is it possible for us to be truly satisfied with what we have? What is it that really matters? There was Christian hit song from 2001, recorded by the band 4 Him featuring Jon Anderson from the band Yes. And it has this wonderful refrain... And when I heard it again today, I couldn’t move. I felt so full. So loved... So amazing... So true.
The only thing I need I already have. The fullness of your mercy in my hand. The only one who loves me as I am. The only thing I need I already have.
With Permission from Fr. Rob Goodridge, Rector
St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church