The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

The Afterlife

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Lazarus and the Rich Man. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

Ancient faith. Radio and patristic nectarpublications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah Trenem patristic nectarpublications invites our listeners to visit our website for our newest offering, four hundredtexts on love by Saint Maximus the confessor. This offering four hundred texts on loveis the second installment in the PHILOCALIA project and is the most famous ofthe works of Saint Maximus the confessor. Here, Saint Maximus expounds the veryessence of the Christian life, the way of love. He provides soul nourishmentand direction in the imitation of Jesus Christ for both novices and the most experiencedbelievers. This text in the Philocalia has been cherished by believers for over amillennium and is offered with a special introduction by His grace, Bishop Maxim,hierarch of the western American diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church and an internationally renownedpatristics scholar and Maximis cologist and now here's father, just sire the name ofthe father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God.This week I received an interesting email from a priest friend of mine in Greecesharing the story of Harvard trained brain surgeon named Dr Evan Alexander. Dr Alexanderwas something of a religious skeptic, and...

...this link was an interview with DrAlexander after he had suffered a tremendous physical affliction that left him, for allintents and purposes for a period of time, dead. And he saw things thoughhis brain was not working, and they have the actual readoubts of hisbrain functioning. He was very much experiencing in his soul a sight of theafterlife. He was allowed by the mercy of God, after seeing what hesaw, to come back to life. And now, four years later,this was in two thousand and eight. That had happened. He's described itin a book about heaven. Most Americans believe in the afterlife, the vast, vast majority, something like eighty five percent. But how many have acorrect understanding of the after right? That's a different story. And how manyexperiences that are real are reported by the media? Are Only those experiences thatare pleasant experiences, and many people have experiences of the afterlife that are notso pleasant. These are not often reported send out onto the media. Wedon't hear about people seeing people scream in agony. Now we hear about thenice accounts of the green fields and the marvelous light like Dr Alexander experienced.Brothers and sisters, in Today's Gospel we have perhaps in the entire Gospel wehave the most vivid description of the next life. In the parable of therich man and Lazarus, we have extensive...

...description of what that life is like. This is, granted, not a picture of Post Cross Post resurrection,host ascension reality. It is a description of Hades as it was when ourSavior was walking on the earth. We see in this Gospel that there isa conscious existence after death, without question, that souls are able to see,hear and speak. The rich man lifted up, his eyes opened,his mouth had a burning tongue, that the souls of all men go toone of two places. At this time it was either into the Bosom ofAbraham or into the flames of torment in the lower part of hades. Weknow that the great judgment has not happened yet, but a particular judgment has. The Lord has made a decision based upon the orientation of that person's life, who will go into the Bosom of Abraham and who will go into theflames of Hades. But this is not the great judgment. We see nogreat white throne, we see no books open, we don't see in accounting, a thorough accounting of every thought word. Indeed, before the judge. Thereis a particular judgment, but not the great one. There is anheavenly escort. It says in this Gospel text that the angels of God tookthe soul of Lazarus us and bore him to the Bosom of Abraham. Andwe also see that the decisions of this life echo in eternity, that thereis no making up for a wasted life...

...after death. Oh how sad therich man was when he saw what was really reality. How sad he wasthat he couldn't go back and change his life. Not only could he notgo back and start over, he couldn't even get a little bit of reliefwhere he was. He couldn't even get the tip of Abraham's moist finger totouch his tongue. This is a sobering account of the next life and onethat is important for us to know. We believers have no doubt about thenext life, but we should be sober about it. It's not all peachesand cream for every person after death. I was walking one time this weekout of my house to my car, was parked just across the street,and one of my neighbors, who's a Mormon woman, stopped me and wehad a brief conversation and we've talked a little bit about her five kids andlittle bit about my kids and a little bit about crazy people and and shesaid to me something that I found very sad. She said that she wascomforted to know that those who misuse this life, those who don't live reasonably, are all going to have a chance to make up for it after theydie, that everyone's going to get a chance to hear the Gospel again afterdeath and fix it. And I thought to myself, how sad to believesuch a thing, what a degrading affirmation about the value of this life andhow hurtful to souls that would be if...

...people actually thought that they could liveany way they wanted to in this life and then they're going to have somesort of second chance after they died to make it all good. That wouldcertainly create hell on earth. We see from the Gospel text that that's notthe case, brothers and sisters, it's not the teaching of the church.The teaching of the church is that the orientation that we have now determines ourdestiny later, that we will go, at the time of death towards thatto which we have been drawn in this life, and those who have anorientation towards God will move towards God, and those who have at orientation towardsselfishness will move to the hell of selfishness. Note, in this example, inthis parable that Lazarus, though he had nothing in this life, nota house, not a table, not food, not his health and nota friend, which I think is the saddest of all, notice that hehad a name. His name was written in the books of Heaven and Godknew it and God spoken the rich man who had everything in this life,who was so blessed wealthy, he feasted sumptuously every day at his own table, he dressed in splendid clothing. Everyone on earth knew his name and paiddeference to the great man he's laughed, without a name, anonymous to heaventhough famous on the Earth, all because,...

...according to the Gospel, he wasa man only interested in his own life. It doesn't say that hewas a murderer, that he violated any of the ten commandments in some atrociousway, and that's why he was sent to Hades. He was sent tohades because he couldn't be bothered by a poor man. It didn't fit intohis life. Everything he had was about himself and his own happiness and hedidn't have any compassion at all. Couple days ago I had a delightful scene. I'll do in the dishes. Yes, I was, I must I mustsay I always am doing them, and we have a window right thereby the sink and I was looking outside and there was my princess and shewas laying on her dog like this. I had seen, I have seenover the years, over our almost twenty five years of marriage, I haveseen many pictures of my wife at that age laying on her dogs, andthis her little mini me, Olivia, was doing the exact thing. Hewas laying and she was playing and she would get on top of the dogand then she would fall off and then she would grab the dog under theChin and move the dog wherever she wanted the dog to go. And thisis our dog's life. Our dogs, our dog seems even to be verycontent with it, quite pleased to have a partner and a friend and tosuffer, I should say, some measure of child abuse. I confess thatI have often, during this dog's life,...

...and the previous dog also, Ihave often thought to myself that I had an example before my eyes.I know you look at it me strange, but I'm honestly telling you the truth. That dog knew how to take a beating, how to be holdyanked left and right, up and down by a child, and to beokay with it. Frankly, it's a model of parenthood, a tremendous modelof endurance and patience. The dog endured at all with happiness. And this, as any parent knows, is the core of being a mother or afather, to raise your children and to go with them through all of thosemoves, all of those right turns, up down everywhere, and to beokay with it and to love them and to hold on to them. I'mtelling you this because it's not just my dog that's an example, because theonly one in this entire Gospel account who did any virtue that we know wasthe dog Lazarus was there quiet, never spoke. His virtue was that hedidn't blaspheme or complain about his life. He accepted what it was. Heknew that he was God's son by grace and he accepted it. The dogdid active virtue and as much as a dog can do virtue. He lickedthe sores that no man would attend. He demonstrated a little bit of compassionand from that dog we can learn, because our savior says I desire compassionand not sacrifice. And when our own savior looked at the hungry multitudes,when he looked out and he saw the...

...five thousand, all those five thousandlazaruses, he said to his disciples, I'm moved with compassion. Don't sendthem home, feed them. Our Compassion is demonstrated in this Gospel, ornot very much, by our money, by our check books, by ourbank accounts. Our compassion or lack of compassion can be judged like this richMan's who refused to share anything, even the crumbs that fell from his table. You know, back then they often use fresh bread to wipe their handsand to clean their hands after they had different courses. They weren't using ourfancy utensils back then like we do today, and even that bread that he woulduse to wipe his hand and then discard, even that he refused toshare with Lazarus. He was a selfish man. And the whole context ofthis parable, the whole reason that Jesus said this parable, was because thosewho were standing around him, the Pharisees, were greedy. It says that inthe Gospel tact text in Luke Chapter Sixteen. Listened to the context.This is verse nine, and the parable starts at Verse Nineteen. In versenine, our Savior says, make friends for yourselves by the Mammon of unrighteousness. This is a reference to money. Make friends for yourselves by the Mammonof unrighteousness, so that when it fails, as it certainly will, they mayreceive you into the eternal dwellings. Here our Savior says, look,take the dirty money and use it well to insure yourself a good entrance intoparadise. And he goes on in verses eleven through thirteen. He says,if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous Mammon, who willgive to you true riches? No servant...

...can serve to masters. You cannotserve God and money. And then it says in verse fourteen the Pharisees whowere lovers of money. We're listening to all these things and scoffing at him. This is the context for the giving of this parable. It's very muchabout the temptation to love money, and our savior delivers the parable of richthe rich man and Lazarus, so that we can make sure that we arethe master of it and it is not the master of us. I closemy reflections on this homily by encouraging you, brothers and sisters, to think,think of the virtue of Lazarus and think of the vice of the richman and make the right judgment about who is the really pitiful character. It'snot the naked one, it's not the one who had nothing earthly, becausehe had his patience. Don't underestimate the value, the wealth that true patiencein affliction is, and avoid the vice of the rich man. He knewwhat to do, but he didn't do it until it was too late.He put off prayer in his life and he tried to start when he wasdead. It says that in the flames he lifted up his eyes. Whyso late? Why so late? He said those words that he should havesaid earlier, but only after death. He said, have mercy on me, brothers and sisters, these are the words were resolved to say now,yes, our most precious prayer. Lord...

Jesus, Christ son of God,have mercy on me, a sinner. We say this now, don't waittill later. It will do us no good. Then it does us allthe world of good. Now, the vice of the rich man was thathe put off prayer and he put off repentance. He's even said to Abraham. Please, if you can't help me, help my five brothers who are livingjust like me, send word to them, because if they see someonewho has risen from the dead, these are his words, then they willrepent. We only repent if we see someone risen from the dead. No, brothers and sisters, when we put off prayer and we put off repentance, we end up like the nameless, wretched rich man. But if wecan cultivate our trust in God, if we can be patient and affliction likeLazarus, and if we can follow the dog's example, who was more humanthan the human rich man, by showing some compassion. Then we'll please oursavior and we'll find ourselves at peace with all of the righteous who come fromeast and West to recline in the Kingdom of God, with Abraham, Isaacand Jacob and all the Holy Patriarchs. May that be your destiny and mindtogether a'men, we hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by thispresentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing thespiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. Until next time,.

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