Thursday, September 22, 2016

They Covered His Wounds With Ideology - Reflection On The Rich Family and Lazarus

If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. - Luke 16:31

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What a surprise we hear from Father Abraham, the one for whom faith was reckoned as righteousness, trust as justice (Genesis 15:16, Galatians 3:6, Romans 4), the one who saw God’s promise before him, and in seeing learned what the scriptures urge us to learn, but that which often seems so impossible: how to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), to see and travel with something more than just eyes.  

What a surprise. Father Abraham, who learned to see, to perceive, by and through trust, doubted the nicely dressed rich man’s family. He questioned those clad in purple. How offensive. He who trusted God doubted them, and doubted them deeply. 

How offensive and how out of character. 

He doubted them so deeply, in fact, that he suspected that even if their whole frame of existence were shattered, even if their whole perception of the finitude of life and the finality of death (their whole perception of “that’s just the way things are, man!”) was confronted by their living, embodied, real contradiction, counter-reality, by a human resurrected, “returned from the dead” (an impossible crossing); 

that their frame (even though confronted, hit with hammer) would still not shatter. 

Their frame, it seems, would just, like, heal itself: 

recreate, regenerate reframe all over again their thoughts and perceptions. Immediately. It would once again hide safely away, cover up, what had just been uncovered, when their frame was reframed, when existence was a bit more exposed, revealed, unveiled. 

Abraham suspected that they would not be changed. That they would go on seeing what they had always seen, behaving as they had always behaved—not sensing the poor, not feeling the presence of the Other, without compassion, fostering Hell on earth for those who begged, near by, at hand, outside, for their crumbs. 

After all, Abraham reminds the rich one, they already had the Law. They had already heard the prophets. Holding it, hearing them, there was still no effect. The Law could not instruct them. The prophets could not shock them into Love. No metanoetics. No lasting change. “They look, but do not see (Mark 4:12).” They see wounds but neither feel nor respond with empathy, with solidarity, with a glass of water (Matthew 25:35). 

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” This quote is from The Little Prince. 

Abraham doubted that the rich man’s family could ever see with the heart. 

Their heart was hardened, desensitized, calloused, kept from feeling by their ideology, the rich man’s ideology, the ideology of purple clothing and other fine coverings, an ideology they were faithful to, the ideology of the god named Mammon, the god of money, of wealth, who offers many blessings, but demands in exchange sacrifice, human sacrifice. And for humans to sacrifice other humans, humans need to learn not to see other humans as humans, as family. But to see others as objects. Objects to be sacrificed. To be used. To be consumed at the table of Mammon (feasting sumptuously every day), so that Mammon’s servant, having given his master, her master, a feast, might get paid, praised, rewarded. 

In the parable, Abraham doubted (with Jesus) that anyone could serve both God and wealth, the God called Love, and the god called Mammon. It was impossible, said Jesus (Luke 16:13). 

Love for Love creates disdain for apathy, for non-compassion, and for the human sacrifice that proceeds from it. 

Faithfulness to the God of which Jesus spoke includes giving up much, sacrificing greed, destroying Mammon and Mammon’s power (wealth hoarded or concentrated), smashing Mammon the idol, the god of death-deals, so that all might be lifted, filled, satisfied. 

So that Lazarus no longer begs. 

Abraham doubted the rich man’s family. They covered Lazarus' wounds with ideology rather than with a bandage. 

“He deserves it,” they said. “Get a job.” “What’s wrong with him? Haha!” “What a loser.” “You know it’s his fault. I heard that...” “I worked hard for my money. I'm a self-made...” “Shoot me if I ever end up like that. LOL!” “If he would just straighten up his act he could be successful like me!” “I saw this documentary about this one guy…” “Maybe if he went back to school…” “I bet he’s on drugs.” “You can just quit, you know. It’s not that hard. I had a friend who…” “Send Lazarus to give me some water… I'm thirsty... Make him work...” 

Blinders. Ideology. Purple linens. Coverings. Worship of Mammon. 

“A great chasm has been fixed.” 

You cannot serve both God and Mammon. 

Devotion. Love. Hate. Despise. One. The Other. 

What will it take to see with the heart? To see what is essential? 

To walk by faith? To remove the purple?

To live in Love? 

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