Luke 16:19-31 2023/11/05
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
“Lord, have mercy”. How many times do we pray this in this service? How many times have we prayed, “Lord have mercy”, “Grant it, Oh Lord” since we first stood in an Orthodox prayer room with earnest hope?
The premise of our prayers and requests is that unless we ask God for mercy and receive the necessary grace from God, we will not be saved. We keenly feel this truth within us.. All those who pray like this know that they are living with something lost, even if they cannot express it in words. In today’s gospel, Christ teaches us this through the “distortion” of our relationships with other people.
A rich man lived in luxury every day and every night. Here are his thoughts: “What’s wrong with using my own money, which I earned with my own efforts, to do whatever I want?” He was living his life “normally,” thinking, “I’m not bothering anyone, it’s fine.” Same as us. A beggar named Lazarus was lying on the doorstep of the rich man, who was so weak that was unable to shoo away even the dog who came to lick his sores on his body. Lazarus was waiting for the owner of the house to throw him a piece of bread, which he used to wipe his hands at meals. But the rich man had no interest in Lazari. He didn’t even throw bread to him or even chase him away, saying, “It’s an eyesore. Go away.” He was completely indifferent to Lazarus.
Christ exposed man’s sin as this ordinary man’s indifference and insensitivity to the suffering and sorrow of his neighbor. This indifference between people and the insensitivity to one’s neighbor that is not even recognized as a sin among ordinary people, is the result of the original sin that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and left God, the source of life. It’s a way of life that makes us wonder, What’s wrong with living like that? This is a way of life that teaches children not to cause trouble to others, rather than teaching them to be kind to others. And this is the way of life that says, “As long as you don’t cause trouble to others, it doesn’t matter how you live, just live the way you want to live.” God created humans as a community, saying that “it is not good for people to be alone.” Nevertheless, because of sin, people have isolated themselves and, whether in material or spiritual matters, whether lowly or exalted, openly pursue their own satisfaction, not being content with how they live. They no longer live as a community but as individuals. Self-realization is the highest value there. People don’t consider it a grave sin, but they live in a bleak and lonely hell of their own making, all without realizing it; it’s just considered normal.
The salvation that Christ achieved is salvation from this loneliness. The Lord began by opening the way for us to return to fellowship with God. He offered Himself on the cross for this purpose. For those of us who have lost love, we offered God the greatest love of all: “Sacrificing my life for my friends.” This is to restore the original form of fellowship between God and people, and between people, where we express gratitude for the life God has given us and offer each other’s love as an offering to God. For this reason, God, who is love, sacrificed his love for us on the cross in order to appease the sorrow of God. The cross of the Lord vertically connects heaven and earth. And the arms of Christ, spread out on the crossbeam, invite all people into Himself and unite them.
Through the restoration of the true way of life that Christ accomplished, we are now able to empathize with the suffering and sorrow of our neighbors, extend our hands to them, overcome hatred, and forgive one another. If you choose to do so. The church is a community that lives and bears witness to that salvation.