Luke 16: 19-31
I’ve been reading a book recently entitled Forming Intentional Disciples that calls us into awareness of our actions and the way they impact the people we encounter. Do our actions, words, even body language speak to what it means to be a disciple is the basic premise and how we often have to be, literally, intentional in changing our behaviors. Once we are aware of what it is that we are doing, it is much more difficult to change. But then there are some…who will never change, who’s hearts don’t allow them to change and seek conversion in their lives. It is so often those who don’t have the ability to do healthy self-criticism, those who think they already know it all and have reached the point where they no longer need to change; those who just never get it. Enters Pharisees stage right in today’s gospel who are once again been given some harsh images to ponder within their own hearts and where they may need to change and grow.
So often they are perceived in that way, the “know-it-alls” who only expect everyone else to change with them, but over these past weeks, Jesus has been laying the ground work for them to examine their own hearts and how hardened the law had made them, to the point where Jesus says in the parable that not even someone rising from the dead is going to change them; a sad way to live one’s life, lonely and unfulfilling. The rich man pleads that someone be sent to jolt them into change, but as we all know, it so often only comes when the cross or some kind of suffering comes are way before we can be knocked down and begin to see in a different way, how we too have hurt others, and begin to seek that conversion in our lives in the process of becoming these intentional disciples in our world today.
These readings are challenging to us all because week after week Jesus is leading us where we so often don’t want to go in our lives, to the hardness of our own hearts. The Pharisees aren’t all bad or wrong, they just aren’t living life to its fullest in the way God had created them, but maybe we aren’t either at this moment. Maybe God is trying to lead us, or even push us, to those places that we most need to be aware of in our lives in recognizing not only where we have been hurt, but how we hurt and seek change and conversion. The One has already been risen from the dead and now he leads us there as well, probably kicking and screaming at times not wanting to change, but in faith, we are assured of a fuller and more joy-filled life.