O GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Readings See Below: 1 St. John iv. 7 & St. Luke xvi. 19
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Jesus tells us that some people will never be persuaded to do the right thing. Like the rich man, and his kin, they will scoff at the notion that their actions in this world may affect their place in the next. They will refuse the gift of God of eternal life in exchange for a life of indulgence in this world. They will live for the day, with no thought for the morrow. They will turn a deaf ear to the cries of the poor and the pleadings of the unfortunate. They will count themselves blessed, and forget the needs of their neighbors. When opportunity presents itself for them to minister to their neighbor, they will turn their backs. They will not believe the Law as given by Moses, nor the warnings of the prophets. They will not even believe the Risen Christ much less his disciples.
Now before any of us go pointing a finger at someone we know that is just like the rich man in the parable, remember that when we do, three fingers point back at us. The lesson today is a hard one. It shows the reward that one may receive for neglect. The rich man committed no crime. It is never reported that he broke one of the Ten Commandments or any of the lesser laws. However, he failed to live up to the standard to which God calls us.
Jesus gave us the Summary of the Law. It is one of the rules of the Order of the Centurions and is cited in its Vow. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind ..... and... you shall love your neighbor as yourself." This is the law that the rich man neglected. This is a law that many neglect.
If we search the Law, we shall find in Leviticus several passages that directed the people to leave the corners of their fields when they harvested, and not to glean the fields so that the poor might have something of the harvest [Lv 19:9, 23:22]. In Deuteronomy we find directives that the people should not forsake the poor that live among them. [De 15:7]
In the New Testament, Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, "blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the Kingdom of God." [Mt 5:3] Lazarus, the poor man in the parable, who sat outside of the rich man's gate and begged for the scraps from his table, inherited the promise. His reward was in paradise in the bosom of father Abraham, while the rich man burned in hell. Once they had received their eternal reward, there was no way to bridge the great chasm between heaven and hell.
In today's Epistle, St. John encourages us to love one another just as God has loved us by as manifested by the gift of his son. To love your neighbor is to love God, because you cannot possibly love God and hate your neighbor. The law is perfected in the love of God and the love of neighbor.
As our collect for this Sunday asks: May God aid us in our task. We are humans, with human failings and human neglect. We ask that God, by his wonderful Grace, might help us to do the right thing, that in both will and deed we might obey his command to love God and our neighbor. Let us open our ears to hear the law, prophets, and the Son of God, and let us renew our Vow in the context of today's lesson:
"I acknowledge Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior. I will endeavor to obey the Ten Commandments & the Summary of the Law, and follow the Rule of the Order of Centurions; and through faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit - fear God and do what is right. So help me God. "
Hymn at cyberhymnal.org Dives and Lazarus
1 St. John iv. 7.
BELOVED, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
St. Luke xvi. 19
THERE was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Scripture from 1928 Book of Common Prayer
Visit the Order at www.OrderofCenturions.org