Whenever we read about Lazarus and Dives, I think we recall the money passage of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Spe Salvi:
“I am convinced,” the Pope writes, “that the question of justice constitutes the essential argument, or in any case the strongest argument, in favor of faith in eternal life. Only in connection with the impossibility that the injustice of history should be the final word does the necessity for Christ’s return become fully convincing.” (para. 43)
Not everybody believes in Christ. And not everybody who believes in Christ believes in Him enough. But everybody knows that life isn’t fair. Life as we know it, under the blue sky: Ain’t fair.
Cheaters prosper. Lying rogues get elected. Shallow nitwits become famous. Good people get sick. Young ladies with beautiful souls try and try to lose weight, and meanwhile all the boys talk to the cheerleaders in short skirts. People marry their love, and then, a few years later, they discover that they are actually married to their spouse’s mother or father. Promotions go to experts in face-time, while the real hard workers can’t catch a break. Meanwhile, opportunistic talking heads on television fill the airwaves with a steady stream of biased disinformation masquerading as “the news.”
Not fair. We all know this. Hopelessness can, and will, set in, unless we constantly focus our interior eyes of faith on the triumph of Jesus Christ. Again, to quote Pope Benedict:
“This innocent sufferer [Jesus Christ] has attained the certitude of hope: there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith. Yes, there is a resurrection of the flesh. There is justice. There is an ‘undoing’ of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright.”
In my book, the Church expresses Her faith most eloquently at a funeral Mass. We sing at the end of a funeral:
May choirs of angels welcome you, and lead you to the bosom of Abraham, and where Lazarus is poor no longer, may you find eternal rest.
We believe: There is place where Lazarus is poor no longer. There is a place where justice is fully, completely, totally, thoroughly, honestly, and truthfully restored.
Sometimes that place seems a million miles away from earth. And sometimes, when a holy soul does good, the Kingdom seems very close.
The Kingdom will come. That’s what father Abraham is saying to poor Dives in the gospel passage. The Kingdom will come, and anyone with any sense knows that it will. The deep longings our hearts have for justice: Christ’s triumph over death confirms them all. By the divine light of truth, cynicism, worldliness, and atheism make no sense. The Kingdom will come.
Now, how do we hasten the coming of the Kingdom of justice? We can hasten it, after all. And it’s not complicated: Pray. Give. Do good. Avoid evil.