Wed, 11 March 2020
(Jer.17:5-10; Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5; Lk.16:19-31)
“He is like a tree planted beside the waters,
that stretches out its roots to the stream.”
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.” For he shall be like the tree “that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.” He shall never be “like a barren bush in the desert” or “like chaff which the wind drives away.” Never shall he know the “place of torment,” for “the heat when it comes” shall do him no harm. This man “follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners,” but rather “meditates on [God’s] law day and night.” His faith and his hope are the roots that stretch out to the living water of the living God who nourishes all by His Word and in His flesh.
Brothers and sisters, we must never “trust in human beings” as do the Pharisees, or be as the rich man who “seeks his strength in flesh,” “dressed in purple and linen and feast[ing] splendidly every day.” This earth itself holds not our food. Notice that it is to the Pharisees Jesus addresses His parable in our gospel today. How closely the rich man parallels these leaders of the people. The bounty of God’s wisdom is bestowed upon them, but they use it to feed their bellies rather than to shepherd those in need. They claim Abraham as their father and the Law of Moses as their guide, but they neither have the faith that makes Abraham the father of all, nor do they follow the instructions Moses conveys. Only in the flesh are they Abraham’s sons; and though they see him from the hell to which they come, they cannot touch him, they cannot reach past him to the Father in heaven, who gives Abraham his blessing. Dwelling but in their “father’s house” as the rich man who gorged himself on the pleasures of the flesh, they come not to the Father’s House on high, for their roots penetrate not to the living water that is found in faith, and now Lazarus cannot even “dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh [their] tongue.” Dead as the stone upon which the commandments were written do they become.
Notice, too, brothers and sisters, the connection between thoughts and actions, between faith and works, between the word and the flesh in our first reading, and present throughout Scripture: “I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.” Only the Lord, who is Himself the living water, knows if His Word of life dwells in a man, and that faithful spirit is reflected directly in the just man’s deeds – for by these the Lord judges. And Jesus is the just man; He is the Word made flesh in whom the Spirit dwells, in whom all find life. He is the undying tree, one with the Father, whom all must imitate. His words are living water; His flesh is food we eat: He alone is perfect in word and deed, for in Him spirit and flesh meet. Let our hearts be set on Him, and we, too, shall be blessed; and we shall know that He is risen from the dead.
O LORD, let us be saved from torment
by walking in the way of your risen Son.
YHWH, let us not be wayward souls, separating ourselves from you and the nourishment you offer; for we shall but wilt and fade if we put our trust in the passing things of this earth – we shall but die if we fat our bellies and become bereft of your Spirit.
Jesus let us follow, LORD, for upon your will alone He set Himself. Your Word let us meditate upon both night and day that we shall remain in your presence always and walk ever in your ways. You reward the faithful soul with the blessings of your House but can only cast the wicked man far from your table of grace.
Let us not be rich in the things of this world nor turn our sights to what is evil. Upon your love let us set our sights, that our hearts might be purged of all insolence, of all sin against your goodness. And let us reach out a helping hand to those in need of your water, that all might have life this day in the Holy Spirit.