I went to Mass for the first time today. I was struck by the music, bowing to the cross, the unity of responses throughout the congregation…and the Roman Catholic world. There is a beauty of unity that is lost in the spontaneity of unconnected church structures. I wonder if there is a middle ground.
Questions, so many questions. Like the ones in my study of Luke 16-17: what ties these stories together?
The story arc is following Jesus in His confrontation of the Pharisees who pay more attention to money than people. Jesus uses the dishonest manager to teach a lesson about serving God rather than money. And the Pharisees did not like this. He talks about how the news of the Kingdom (of God) has been preached since John the Baptist first proclaimed that the Messiah had come. But the Law was not void. Next is an instruction on divorce, followed by the story of a rich man and Lazarus.
So what’s the connection? Follow the heart. Jesus just told the Pharisees to make sure their hearts were not following money. Now He is challenging their perception of being Abraham’s heirs and descents. What if a beggar will be more blessed than they are?
So divorce? It brings to mind the imagery of Israel’s marriage to God found in the Old Testament. Were the Pharisees committing spiritual adultery? Do our hearts stray? The Church is called the Bride of Christ, and there can be wandering hearts no matter what denomination.
But the lingering questions for me may not be answered until heaven. Was Lazarus a real person? As someone pointed out to me, no other character in a parable is named. So what if he is real? And the rich man is real? And Jesus is bringing back the rich man’s demand as a warning? And what if one of his brothers was in the crowd that day? Did they believe…even when Jesus rose from the dead?
God, thank you for the questions, the insights, the challenge to examine my heart. Am I partnering with others in the world-wide Church to share Your love or just pretending for the moment? Please help me to serve You with everything. Thank You for a beautiful day for so many reasons. To Your glory, Amen.