Luke 16:19-31 NRSV
Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"
Life is not perfect and people are not perfect. Only understanding and compassion--the ability to bear life with the rest of humanity, whatever burdens the bearing brings--perfect us. When that concept gets lost in the name of religion, gets forgotten in the name of goodness, religion has gone awry and virtue has lost its meaning. God is compassionate and gives us what we need. No one can possibly be truly contemplative, truly in touch with the God-Life, truly infused by the spirit of God, who does nothing less for the sake of the other.Contemplation is the mirror through which we come to touch the greatness of God, yes, but contemplation is also the filter through which we discern that scope of our smallness and the potential of our greatness. The contemplative looks for perfection in nowhere but God. The contemplative understands brokenness. And, most of all, the contemplative realizes that it is precisely at the point of personal need that God comes to fill up the emptiness that is us.
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing
mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we,
running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of
your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for
ever and ever. Amen. (Proper 21, The Book of Common Prayer, p.234).Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you
all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us
to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick,
and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those
who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow
into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for
our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Prayer for the Poor and Neglected, The Book of Common Prayer, p.826