GOSPEL. ST. LUKE xvi, 19-31.
(The Rich Man and Lazarus; Herod and Jesus.)
At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen: and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores, desiring to be filled with the crumbs from the rich man’s table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died; and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom; and he cried and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between you and us there is fixed a great chaos; so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then father, I beseech thee that thou wouldst send him to my father s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But he said: No Father Abraham, but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance. And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe if one rise again from the dead.
The strikingly beautiful gospel which you have just heard, O Christian soul, contains within itself its best explanation. How true it is, as Abraham remarks to the glutton in hell, that the unbeliever who will not hear Moses and the prophets, or Jesus and His Church, would also not believe one rising from the dead. This is proven by Herod s conduct.
Before Herod s judgment seat, Jesus appears; Before the incestuous Herod, stands the innocent Jesus; before the murderer of prophets, stands the eternal Judge. Herod demanded signs and wonders: Jesus offers only divine silence. Then Herod places on Jesus in mockery a white garment, laughs at Him, upbraids Him, scoffs at Him, and flings filth at Him the Lazarus of the New Testament suffers all these insults to preserve us from the glutton s lot in hell, which we merit by our pride, vanity and gratification of the appetites. Christ even came back from the dead for Herod. Did he then believe? The profligate sinner died a horrible death. Before and after his time, how many damned souls, for whom Jesus shed His precious blood, are sharing the terrible lot of the rich glutton, hell with everlasting fire enkindled by the wrath of God, indescribable pains of every sort, the eternal loss of the sight of God and the joys of heaven, the torments of all the senses and the in sufferable company of the infernal spirits and the howling and gnashing of teeth of the damned raging in despair.
If you do not wish to fall into this abyss, O Christian soul, then avoid the sin of the glutton, and practice the virtues of Lazarus during the short days of your probation in this world.
LET US PRAY.
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the help of Thy grace, that we, dutifully engaged in fasting and prayer, may be freed from all enemies of body and soul.
By Thy bitter passion and death, O Jesus, most patient Savior, preserve us from death in sin and from the awful punishment that follows it : the torments of hell. Amen.