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 nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah Trenem patristic nectar publications invites our listeners to visit our website for our newest offering, four hundred texts on love by Saint Maximus the confessor. This offering four hundred texts on love is the second installment in the PHILOCALIA project and is the most famous of the works of Saint Maximus the confessor. Here, Saint Maximus expounds the very essence of the Christian life, the way of love. He provides soul nourishment and direction in the imitation of Jesus Christ for both novices and the most experienced believers. This text in the Philocalia has been cherished by believers for over a millennium 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 renowned patristics scholar and Maximis cologist and now here's father, just sire the name of the 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 Greece sharing the story of Harvard trained brain surgeon named Dr Evan Alexander. Dr Alexander was something of a religious skeptic, and...

...this link was an interview with Dr Alexander after he had suffered a tremendous physical affliction that left him, for all intents and purposes for a period of time, dead. And he saw things though his brain was not working, and they have the actual readoubts of his brain functioning. He was very much experiencing in his soul a sight of the afterlife. He was allowed by the mercy of God, after seeing what he saw, to come back to life. And now, four years later, this was in two thousand and eight. That had happened. He's described it in a book about heaven. Most Americans believe in the afterlife, the vast, vast majority, something like eighty five percent. But how many have a correct understanding of the after right? That's a different story. And how many experiences that are real are reported by the media? Are Only those experiences that are pleasant experiences, and many people have experiences of the afterlife that are not so pleasant. These are not often reported send out onto the media. We don't hear about people seeing people scream in agony. Now we hear about the nice 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 we have the most vivid description of the next life. In the parable of the rich 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 our Savior was walking on the earth. We see in this Gospel that there is a 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 to one of two places. At this time it was either into the Bosom of Abraham or into the flames of torment in the lower part of hades. We know 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 the flames of Hades. But this is not the great judgment. We see no great white throne, we see no books open, we don't see in accounting, a thorough accounting of every thought word. Indeed, before the judge. There is a particular judgment, but not the great one. There is an heavenly escort. It says in this Gospel text that the angels of God took the soul of Lazarus us and bore him to the Bosom of Abraham. And we also see that the decisions of this life echo in eternity, that there is no making up for a wasted life...

...after death. Oh how sad the rich man was when he saw what was really reality. How sad he was that he couldn't go back and change his life. Not only could he not go back and start over, he couldn't even get a little bit of relief where he was. He couldn't even get the tip of Abraham's moist finger to touch his tongue. This is a sobering account of the next life and one that is important for us to know. We believers have no doubt about the next life, but we should be sober about it. It's not all peaches and cream for every person after death. I was walking one time this week out 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 we had a brief conversation and we've talked a little bit about her five kids and little bit about my kids and a little bit about crazy people and and she said to me something that I found very sad. She said that she was comforted 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 they die, that everyone's going to get a chance to hear the Gospel again after death and fix it. And I thought to myself, how sad to believe such a thing, what a degrading affirmation about the value of this life and how hurtful to souls that would be if...

...people actually thought that they could live any way they wanted to in this life and then they're going to have some sort of second chance after they died to make it all good. That would certainly create hell on earth. We see from the Gospel text that that's not the 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 our destiny later, that we will go, at the time of death towards that to which we have been drawn in this life, and those who have an orientation towards God will move towards God, and those who have at orientation towards selfishness will move to the hell of selfishness. Note, in this example, in this parable that Lazarus, though he had nothing in this life, not a house, not a table, not food, not his health and not a friend, which I think is the saddest of all, notice that he had a name. His name was written in the books of Heaven and God knew 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 paid deference to the great man he's laughed, without a name, anonymous to heaven though famous on the Earth, all because,...

...according to the Gospel, he was a man only interested in his own life. It doesn't say that he was a murderer, that he violated any of the ten commandments in some atrocious way, and that's why he was sent to Hades. He was sent to hades because he couldn't be bothered by a poor man. It didn't fit into his life. Everything he had was about himself and his own happiness and he didn'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 must say I always am doing them, and we have a window right there by the sink and I was looking outside and there was my princess and she was laying on her dog like this. I had seen, I have seen over the years, over our almost twenty five years of marriage, I have seen many pictures of my wife at that age laying on her dogs, and this her little mini me, Olivia, was doing the exact thing. He was laying and she was playing and she would get on top of the dog and then she would fall off and then she would grab the dog under the Chin and move the dog wherever she wanted the dog to go. And this is our dog's life. Our dogs, our dog seems even to be very content with it, quite pleased to have a partner and a friend and to suffer, I should say, some measure of child abuse. I confess that I have often, during this dog's life,...

...and the previous dog also, I have 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 hold yanked left and right, up and down by a child, and to be okay with it. Frankly, it's a model of parenthood, a tremendous model of endurance and patience. The dog endured at all with happiness. And this, as any parent knows, is the core of being a mother or a father, to raise your children and to go with them through all of those moves, all of those right turns, up down everywhere, and to be okay with it and to love them and to hold on to them. I'm telling you this because it's not just my dog that's an example, because the only one in this entire Gospel account who did any virtue that we know was the dog Lazarus was there quiet, never spoke. His virtue was that he didn't blaspheme or complain about his life. He accepted what it was. He knew that he was God's son by grace and he accepted it. The dog did active virtue and as much as a dog can do virtue. He licked the sores that no man would attend. He demonstrated a little bit of compassion and from that dog we can learn, because our savior says I desire compassion and 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 thousand lazaruses, he said to his disciples, I'm moved with compassion. Don't send them home, feed them. Our Compassion is demonstrated in this Gospel, or not very much, by our money, by our check books, by our bank accounts. Our compassion or lack of compassion can be judged like this rich Man'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 hands and to clean their hands after they had different courses. They weren't using our fancy utensils back then like we do today, and even that bread that he would use to wipe his hand and then discard, even that he refused to share with Lazarus. He was a selfish man. And the whole context of this parable, the whole reason that Jesus said this parable, was because those who were standing around him, the Pharisees, were greedy. It says that in the Gospel tact text in Luke Chapter Sixteen. Listened to the context. This is verse nine, and the parable starts at Verse Nineteen. In verse nine, our Savior says, make friends for yourselves by the Mammon of unrighteousness. This is a reference to money. Make friends for yourselves by the Mammon of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, as it certainly will, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. Here our Savior says, look, take the dirty money and use it well to insure yourself a good entrance into paradise. And he goes on in verses eleven through thirteen. He says, if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous Mammon, who will give to you true riches? No servant...

...can serve to masters. You cannot serve God and money. And then it says in verse fourteen the Pharisees who were 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 much about the temptation to love money, and our savior delivers the parable of rich the rich man and Lazarus, so that we can make sure that we are the master of it and it is not the master of us. I close my 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 rich man and make the right judgment about who is the really pitiful character. It's not the naked one, it's not the one who had nothing earthly, because he had his patience. Don't underestimate the value, the wealth that true patience in affliction is, and avoid the vice of the rich man. He knew what 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 was dead. It says that in the flames he lifted up his eyes. Why so late? Why so late? He said those words that he should have said 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 wait till later. It will do us no good. Then it does us all the world of good. Now, the vice of the rich man was that he 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 living just like me, send word to them, because if they see someone who has risen from the dead, these are his words, then they will repent. 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 we can cultivate our trust in God, if we can be patient and affliction like Lazarus, and if we can follow the dog's example, who was more human than the human rich man, by showing some compassion. Then we'll please our savior and we'll find ourselves at peace with all of the righteous who come from east and West to recline in the Kingdom of God, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the Holy Patriarchs. May that be your destiny and mind together a'men, we hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. Until next time,.

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