Der Vasken's Sermon on March 24, 2019

Mar 26, 2019

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A few moments ago, we heard the parable of a rich man and a beggar.  It's the story of a wealthy man, who enjoys fabulous meals every day and lives well every day, and it's the story of a poor man, who begs for the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table.  Both men live their very different lives and eventually, they both die.  And as you might expect, their fortunes reverse.  The poor beggar spends eternity in the magnificent Gates of Heaven.  He is living in paradise for eternity.  The rich man recognizes his eternal life will be spent very differently and he realizes that his eternity spent in the Gates of Hell has nothing to do with his wealth.  His eternity has to do with how he treated people throughout his life.  His eternity was set by his total and repeated disregard for the life of the poor beggar, who he saw every day.  But by ignoring the beggar year in and year out, the rich man continually chose not to accept "the gift" of Heaven.  Eventually, he accepts his eternal life of torment.

But the story doesn't end there and it becomes very interesting.  The rich man stops trying to plead his case, let's say, and he focuses his attention on helping his five brothers, who still live that same care-free life that he once enjoyed.  And so he asks Abraham, the Father of the Jewish faith, to send him back so he can warn his brothers to essentially "get their act together," or be prepared to end up like him.  But Abraham says to him, "No, no more deals for you," he says. "You're done because, if your brothers chose not to listen to the words of Moses or the Prophets, then neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead and explain it to them."

This is a fascinating story.  This story is not about punishment; it's the story about "an invitation."  The rich man opened his invitation too late, but for his five brothers, he hoped it's not too late.  Their invitation can still be opened.  They still have a chance to hear the message of Moses and the Prophets and apply it to their lives. This is a story that answers the question of what we are supposed to do with the time we are given in this world.

What God wants from our time is not a secret.  Listen to what He says:  "Hear these Words, people of faith:  The Lord, our God, is One and you shall love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these Words shall be upon your heart and you shall teach them carefully to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you leave it and when you lie down at night and when you rise up in the morning. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these commandments hang all the laws of Moses and the Prophets."

In other words, what God is telling us is this:  All our activity, all our kindness, all our charity, all behavior, all obedience, all generosity, all duty, all love, all joy, essentially everything we do, hang on "hearing" these Commandments of God and responding to them.  To "hear" these Words but not "listen" to their message, is the same as cutting off God's voice from our lives.  And that's why our Church Fathers placed this story in the middle of Lent.

As long as we are alive and breathing in this world, it's not too late to "hear" the message of God in our lives.  

  • That message is for all corners of our lives.
  • That message is for us and our families.
  • That message is for us on the good days and on the bad.
  • And that message is to be on our hearts and minds at all times.
So on this fourth Sunday of Lent,
  • What is God saying to you?
  • And are you open to His invitation to spread His Message throughout your corner of the world?

Something for all of us to think about.

  • What is God saying to you?
  • And are you responding to Him?
Amen.