Thursday, March 4, 2010

""There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz'arus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom. And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz'arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'""

- Luke 16: 19-31

1 comment:

  1. During this life when we are visited by lean times of bareness and grief, we will have the choice to turn inward in tormented self-pity or to turn outward towards others and seek mercy, both to receive and to give what mercy a poor man can give to his fellow man. Likewise, during this life when we are visited by fat times of plenty and happiness, we will have the choice to turn inward in hedonistic self-congratulation, or to turn outwards and seek beyond the material good and to dispense the rich mercy that a wealthy man can give to his fellow man.

    The ancient understanding of what befell mankind after death is not the modern notion. For starters, the idea of the Christian heaven – that is to go and be with God, simply doesn’t exist. The dead fall down into the sightless realms, into the house of darkness and ash and dwell in sort of a half-life. At the time of Christ, for the Jews there was Gehenna and Sheol (also known as Abraham’s Bosom) . Gehenna was the place of the tormented dead and Sheol was the place of the righteous dead. In translating concepts Luke does not accurately use Hades for Gehenna. Hades would be the entirety of the abode of the dead, sometimes limited to a Sheol like concept sometimes the Elysian Fields taking on a Sheol like concept, whereas Tartaros (Tartarus in the Latin) would be the equivalent of Gehenna. It is of note that the realm of Hades has different areas where one is free to travel between save for Tartarus, which is sealed off by gates of Adamantine.

    When we view the rich man’s request of Abraham, at first glance it seems to be altruistic – he seems to genuinely care about his brother. However, if we look closer we will notice that it is actually a reproach against God. The rich man is saying that Abraham hasn’t done enough, that God hasn’t done enough to warn people about the horrors of hell. He in essence is saying that he wasn’t warned and that it isn’t fair for if Laz’arus should be sent to the rich man’s brothers then the rich man could argue that he is being unfairly treated by God because “he didn’t know”. Abraham says that they had enough, they had the Moses and the prophets, to which the rich man replies that isn’t enough, to which Abraham replies that they are enough to avoid hell.

    God in fact gave the Jews more than just Moses and the prophets and he has given us Christians even more. We have so much surrounding us begging us to listen to head the word of God. The question is are we listening, or will we say “but if there could have only been one more thing, like a man rising from the dead to tells us what it was like.”

    Addendum: The rich man is the Jerusalem and he has five brothers who know Moses and the Prophets. There is a woman by a well who has five husbands. The rich man’s sins are not only against Laz’arus but also against his brothers, for if he was merciful to them, he would not have ended where he did. This is a commentary about the religious bigotry of Jerusalem, especially the Pharisees, scribes, and others not mentioned in the scriptures who treated rudely the semi-Jews, who had become intermingled in blood and beliefs with their gentile conquerors, instead of helping them and showing them mercy by healing their wounds and helping them to recover their heritage.