Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 16
Thursday in Second Week of Lent
“Lazarus, the Rich Man, and Almsgiving”
Many kids like Oreos. Some do not. Some love the delicious icing, but find the cookie part distasteful. Today’s Jeremiah reading is like an Oreo—two uncomfortable passages around a likeable one. The larger context however is about those who trust idols but not God (Jer 17:1-4). Thus, why would someone who trusts idols experience an abundant life (Jer 17:5-6)? Why would someone who trusts the Lord experience anything but spiritual abundance (Jer 17:7-8)? Yet, God knows our hearts, respects our freedom, and allows us the consequences of our decisions (Jer 17:9-10). But what’s Jeremiah’s connection with the “Lazarus and rich man” parable (Lk 16:19-31)? By the time of Jesus’ ministry, Israel had repented of worshipping Baal. But they had traded old idols for a new one—money. Thus, Jesus’ parable was aimed at the Pharisees, who were “lovers of money” (Lk 16:14). The Pharisees, just like the rich man, were so oblivious to the poverty around them because they were oblivious to the spiritual poverty inside them. In fact, Jesus extensively preaches on the inverse relationship between our love for earthly riches and our love for heavenly riches—the more we love one, we will hate the other. Almsgiving is a traditional Lenten discipline. However, it’s not for us to grow in generosity only, but to learn to “hate” money, so that we can love Christ more. This lent, how can you “hate” your money, so that you can love Christ more?
O Lord, strong and mighty, Lord of hosts and King of glory: Cleanse our hearts from sin, keep our hands pure, and turn our minds from what is passing away; so that at the last we may stand in thy holy place and receive thy blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.