“Heaven or Hell?”
By Father Frank Hernandez
A gospel reading all of us have to take seriously is the one of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke chapter 16 verses 19-31 that speak to us of our final judgment. A strong image of our faith that Jesus presents to us in His ministry of how we are to live out the faith. The Rich Man had everything he would want in his life, wealth, power, a fancy home and clothes, all the food he wanted and no real concern for anything bad. While Lazarus was poor, had nothing, sick and lived on the streets. Two opposite ends of the social ladder. But one day death happens to both of them and one is punished and one receives the glory of the Lord. The Rich Man wants relief from the fires of help and wants help now in his suffering. But the Lord tells him, he made his choice and now he has to live with the consequences of his actions.
How does this reading in the gospel impact our daily lives? Are we ready to enter into eternal life with God our Father? All of our actions have a consequence or a reward. What choices are we making in our daily lives? Are we like this rich man who only focuses on himself and no worry about others and those around us or do we help people like Lazarus who may be alone, sick, afraid and need our help. Jesus reminds us in the gospel that we cannot hide our actions from the Lord, we can hide them from each other, but not Him.
If today, we were in the presence of the Lord. Where would He find our hearts? Living the example of Jesus, providing support to the needy and helping others in our daily lives Or would He find us like the rich man in the gospel, not living the example of Jesus and not helping those in need. Focusing on ourselves and the things of the world. God is forgiving and loving to all, but we need to do our part in our journey of faith. I hope that when I am in the Lord’s presence, He will find that I tried my hardest to live His example. If He does ask me about the times I was not a good disciple, I need to be honest towards Him. If we do go to hell, away from God, we need to remember that we chose to end up there because of our actions and decisions in our lives. We need to recognize the things that we do in our lives and accept the consequences and rewards. We cannot blame others for our deeds and our lives.
Jesus is calling us to be a better disciple to Him and to help others around us. How can this reading from the gospel of Luke motivate us always to be attentive to the good of others and the good of our souls as well?