Homily – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Fr Jarek Kurek OSB

The rich man in today’s gospel was, no doubt, in dire straits. So it doesn’t come as a big surprise that he looked up [to the heavens] and begged Abraham for seconds of relief from his agony, just to have his tongue cooled. This is very human indeed.

Any success? No. With his failed request came some feedback: you had too much comfort in your lifetime, that’s why you are experiencing torments now. He was paying dearly for carelessness in his earthly existence.

What happens next, however, is far more interesting. He forgets about himself and his pain and becomes concerned about his family. On their behalf, he calls for a miracle, as he doesn’t want them to experience the horrible torments he himself is experiencing.

But what does Abraham do? He doesn’t lose his composure, no emotions really. He calmly informs the petitioner: Nothing extraordinary will help your family unless they listen to Moses and the prophets.

Would it be too big a leap for me to make to say that this man, out of his torments, may also be begging on our behalf? He intervenes on our behalf because it is all too easy to start feeling comfortable in our lives, to have our spiritual attention loosened.

Abraham’s message is clear: ‘Listen to Moses and prophets’. ‘Listen to Moses and the prophets’ if there is to be any profound change in our spiritual life, if a metanoia is to take place ‘listen to Moses and the prophets’.

Now, no one will deny that the books of the Old Testament weren’t that well known, if at all, in the church over the centuries. The focus was always on the Gospels and all that had happened throughout the centuries before Jesus, remained virtually unknown.

Today Jesus points to Abraham making us turn towards the Old Testament. We need to take this seriously. To any Jew in the first century Abraham was like a father. That’s the way he is actually addressed by the rich man: father Abraham; look how highly he was thought of. Abraham held that same authority for Christian writers at the time. We monks also refer to Abraham in our prayers every morning and every evening.

So recognising Abraham’s authority, it is for us to follow his advice: ‘Listen to Moses and the prophets’, since it will give us a deeper understanding into why Jesus came to save his people Israel.

Abraham is a true model of faith. In him and with him we believers are blessed, asserts St. Paul. It will be, I have no doubt, a wellspring of blessings for anyone who decides to undertake this effort to become a friend of Moses and the prophets, anyone who desires to become familiar with the words that God spoke through those great men of old. The path is challenging, but the effort is worthwhile, believe me, as so many spiritual treasures are hidden in the pages of the Old Testament that give a different understanding of the New Testament.

May I say at the end: Blessed are they who truly listen to Moses and the prophets, blessed are they who truly listen to the words of God, amen.


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