Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lazarus and the Rich Man

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."

But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."

He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."

Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them."

"No, father Abraham," he said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."

He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."


Some thoughts:

It is interesting that for many of our homeless and marginalized brothers and sisters, they are forced into a life of wandering anonymity whilst the rich are celebrated and honored, but Jesus here names and welcomes the poor man and leaves the wealthy one anonymous.

The rich man is not condemned as evil or a non-believer, it just notes that he is rich and literally outside his gate, the poor were literally suffering and dying.

The rich man appeals for Lazarus' help, after apparently ignoring Lazarus all those years.

There is no help forthcoming, because there is a "chasm" that had been set in place... one can't help wonder: Who set the chasm in place? Could it be that this is the rich man's own chasm that he had separated himself?

The rich man was worried about his presumably also-wealthy family, that they might suffer the same fate as he did.

Whatever your thoughts about the Bible, this is a great story - powerful, moving, tragic and compelling. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finding Hope

Words of hope and rebellion, from Wendell Berry...

...So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. 
Love the Lord.
Love the world. 
Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. 
Hope to live in that free republic 
for which it stands.

Give your approval to all you cannot understand. 
Praise ignorance, 
for what man has not encountered 
he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.

Invest in the millennium. 
Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. 
Prophesy such returns...

Put your faith in the two inches of humus 

that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion – put your ear

close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. 
Laughter is immeasurable. 
Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts...

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. 
Rest your head in her lap. 
Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.

Practice resurrection.

~excerpts from Wendell Berry's Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front