Palm Sunday Evensong

Gratitude is characteristic only of the humble. The egotistic are so impressed by their own importance that they take everything given them as if it were their due. They have no room in their hearts for recollection of the undeserved favours they have received.

Fulton Sheen On Being Human 1982: 325

In this evening’s second lesson we are given the parable of Lazarus and Dives. Jesus has been in the company of Pharisees, members of a religious elite, figures of authority, who have been described as ‘lovers of money’. It’s always slightly uncomfortable when clergy are faced with Our Lord’s views on religious authorities. His audience are selfish, avaricious, self-satisfied, and arrogant: we need to be careful that the Church never becomes like this.

The parable the has at its heart the important message that charity and generosity are at the heart of our faith. We see this charity and generosity above all in Our Lord’s life, his preaching, his healing, his miracles, his passion, and death. They act as a paradigm, an example for us to follow. We need to live our lives so that they look like his.

The rich man is singularly unable to do this. Even when he is in Hades he wants Lazarus to come and cool his tongue, and to go and warn his brothers: even now he’s still treating Lazarus like a servant – giving him orders, making him work for him, even in death he is still arrogant, and self-absorbed, he needs to learn humility, to know his need of God.

Quite rightly Jesus can say that the Rich Man’s brothers have the Law & the Prophets: as we know from our 1928 Prayerbooks that we hace Jesus’ own summary:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself – on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

It’s all about faith & action: putting it into practice in our lives, it’s exactly what Jesus is doing in Holy Week, in his passion and death, showing us how much God loves us and the lengths to which he will go to heal and restore humanity – for love of us, each of us, you and me.

How do we respond to this other than living it out in our lives: living out the same costly self-giving sacrificial love in our lives, so that we can be like Jesus, fed by him in Word and Sacrament, becoming ever more like Him. The world around us may not believe, it’s too selfish, too self-absorbed, to be like Jesus. The cost is too great, and yet it is what our faith is all about. Following Jesus means being like Him, doing what he did, and how he did it, so that we may be more and more conformed to him, living out our faith and drawing others to him so that the world may believe and give glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit …

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