The prophet Amos announces that Israel’s great wealth is a cause not for rejoicing but rather sorrow because God’s people have forgotten how to share their wealth with the poor. The wealthy will be the first to go into exile when judgment comes.
The Amos text says that because some of the rich feasted and lived in luxury while their neighbors starved and lived in shambles, they would face God’s wrath. And it is not because they had wealth, but how they refused to share it with others. In the gospel text for Sunday, another wealthy man is doomed to eternal agony, while an impoverished man is rewarded with eternal life to live in comfort and love. The rich man begs for relief from his suffering, and Father Abraham tells him there isn’t any relief for him now like there wasn’t relief for Lazarus. He then pleaded with Father Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers so they could hear from the dead and change their lives while there was still time. Abraham shakes his head and thinks, this is not a Christmas Carol.
In my sermonic imagination, I also heard Father Abraham take out a lyre and strike the opening chords from the song Time by Pink Floyd, and he paraphrased their powerful lyrics as his response.
“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, you frittered and wasted the hours in an offhand way. Father Abraham is saying you and your brothers had the chance to help, but you decided to ignore Lazarus and others who were in need in the former life so that you will be ignored in eternal life. This is a hard lesson for some to accept.
I didn’t know, says the formerly rich man. “Really,” says Father Abraham as Lazarus looks on.
“You were young, and life was long, and there was time to kill each day
And then one day, you found many years have gotten behind you
No one told you when to run, you have missed the starting gun.”
“Child,” says Father Abraham, you had the prophets and the law, but you chose to ignore the word of God as you decided to ignore Lazarus, and now, I can’t help you.
The time is gone, and the song is over, thought I’d have something more to say, but there is nothing more to say.
Beloved, because of Jesus and Jesus’ love for us, there is time for us to reflect on how we relate to others, how we treat our neighbors, and even how we show love to our enemies. In our bickering and disgruntled world, we still have time to eschew the call to ignore the poor or engage in a bitter winner take all destructive mentality. God is calling to us now to change the direction of a world headed to self-destruction because of greed. Beloved, we in the church can make a difference. Let’s do it while we still have time.
Anyway, this is my hope for the world.