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Trinity 1 – Luke 16:19-31

by pastorjuhl ~ June 4th, 2010

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

The world has learned a difficult lesson concerning greed. Gone are the days of “cheap money”. Here to stay, at least for a while, are words and phrases like “staycation”, “downsizing”, “upside down on my mortgage”, and “too much month at the end of the money”. The world learned greed is a vice. Greed was a virtue worthy of praise. People threw away dollar after dollar chasing after so-called necessities.

There is another equally pernicious form of greed. You can save so much and pinch every penny so much that you worship a bank statement rather than open your coffers to further the Gospel here in Momence and around the world.  You don’t call it greed. You call it “common sense”. A penny saved is a penny earned. Watching the pennies pile up while others are in need is greed.

Don’t look now but your clothes are turning purple. Though they might be made of cotton or polyester, they are the finest linens money can buy. Your table is full. You fare sumptuously. You are the rich man. You will not listen to the Law pounding your Old Adam into submission. Greed is your way of life and you love the way you live.

You are in good company. Abram tried to help God fulfill the Promise given to him. God makes Abram a promise that his house will not be barren. When God doesn’t deliver a son in what Abram considers a timely fashion, he sleeps with Hagar and she gives birth to a son named Ishmael. Abram’s greed gets the best of him. Does God give up on Abram and look for another man to be the heir? God keeps His Promise to Abram. [Abram] believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

Abram wouldn’t listen and believe God’s Word. That’s the rich man’s problem. The rich man passes Lazarus every day. Perhaps they became acquainted with each other. The rich man doesn’t care about Lazarus. He has more important things to deal with than this bum does. When death comes to both, there’s a surprise waiting.

The rich man is in hell. Lazarus is in Abraham’s bosom. Greed isn’t good enough for the Kingdom of God. Even in hell, the rich man looks to make deals with Abraham. Send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. Send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment. If he goes to them from the dead, they will repent. How does Abraham respond? If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.

When you pay no attention to the Law and the prophets, you pay no attention to Christ.  The Law and the prophets prepare you to receive Jesus Christ and His teaching.  Saint John writes, If someone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. It is abominable before the eyes of God to say you love God while hating your neighbor. The world is not perfect. There will be those whom you care to be around more than others will. Nevertheless, if you love the things of the world more than God loves or despise others while loving God, you put yourself outside the heavenly Father’s love. When the love of the Father is not in you, you are dead in your sin and deserve eternal wrath.

Repent. Believe in neither creature comforts nor other creatures. Believe in the only God Who rescues you from the flaming lake of fire. God created the world out of love. He sends His Son Jesus out of love. God does not want His creation to die and live apart from Him.  Instead of passing you by every day as the rich man does Lazarus, He has compassion on you. The Father picks you up from the pit of sin and sets you free. Meanwhile, Jesus remains in that pit in your place. He dies. You live. He is alone. You are not alone.

God accounts your faith in Him as righteousness. Your greed goes on Jesus. His holiness goes on you. Just as Abram believed, God would make a nation from him, so you believe that God grafts you into that nation of righteousness by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

God is not greedy when He offers this gift to all. Many believe they can do it on their own. Many others want to help God does it? It is here where God is greedy, but in a good way. God doesn’t need your help. He alone saves you. He alone shows you the true meaning of love. Saint John writes, God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

God abides in you through Holy Baptism. Water and the Word of God pull you out of this world into the life of the world to come. Forgiveness of sins is yours. Eternal life is yours. You are saved from death and hell. God abides in you through Holy Communion. Today you will receive the True Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, under bread and wine. Your soul, wearied by the devil, the world, and your sinful nature, eats and drinks at the Banquet Table that satisfies and makes you whole again in Christ.

Your life hidden in Christ is a sermon to the world. Your creed is no longer “Greed is good” You are rich in Christ. You long to show His love in your life by loving your neighbor in his time of need. It need not be with money or goods. It may be bringing him comfort through works of mercy. Most times, you won’t even know you love your neighbor. It is not you who love him but Christ in you Who loves Him.

The name Lazarus means “one who trusts in God”. You trust in the God Who saves you from greed and gives you His love so you may love your neighbor as you love God. Greed is dead. Love is alive.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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