Jesus offers a rare and shocking picture of God’s keeping score with Lazarus and the rich man. Jesus usually presents God as generous and forgiving. Just one chapter earlier (see Luke 15), Jesus makes clear that God is not the Divine Accountant with a giant ledger in the sky but rather is the tenderhearted Father who extravagantly welcomes home his wayward son.
This parable, then, is not so much about keeping score as about paying attention. Jesus’ story makes plain the consequences of refusing to listen and not having “ears to hear.”
The last sentence is the key line. Father Abraham says to the rich man, “You did not listen.” The rich man was too smug and self-satisfied, too comfortable in his success to listen, and so he refused to let God transform his life. Jesus says to us, “Have ears to hear! Pay attention! Don’t miss out on what God is up to!”
When we attune our ears to God’s narrative, we hear the strains of abundant life and are called to repentance and transformation. We know this. In those fleeting moments when we have ears to hear God’s dream-song for our lives and for all creation, our hearts break open with possibility. We step into God’s story, turning (repenting) from self-satisfaction to true life, abundant life, eternal life.
Yet our hearing is numbed by overstimulation, multitasking, and preoccupations. We have a cacophony of voices around us and inside our heads: the “to-do” list and the “others’ expectations” list, the inner critic and the inner gossip. It gets crowded!
When our ears are full of the world’s messages about success, we need daily practices to help us pause, breathe, and listen for the voice of Jesus.
Pick three times today to use a breath prayer to become more aware of Jesus’ presence and his offer of real, abundant life. As you inhale, say “abundant.” As you exhale, say “life.” Repeat in five slow breaths.
While Jeremiah is in prison, God tells him to buy a field. This transaction shows that in the future, life will return to normal. It is an “enactment prophecy,” where a prophecy is given through actions instead of just words. The psalmist rejoices in the protection that God provides to the faithful. God is a fortress, a covering, and a shield. Paul admonishes his readers not to fall into materialism. The love of money, not money itself, is the root of all kinds of evil, and those obsessed with it build their hopes on shifting sands. Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who has fallen into that very trap. Only after death, when it is too late, does he realize his mistake.
Read Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15. How do you live as if God’s promises were already true?
Read Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16. How do you turn toward God with hope in times of darkness?
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19. Whether you have few or many possessions, how do they get in the way of your following Jesus?
Read Luke 16:19-31. God knows each of us by name. Do you know the names of the persons in your community who have obvious or internal unmet needs?
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