Today's Reading: Luke 16:19-31
'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.' (Luke 16:31)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus tells this story of The Rich Man and Lazarus to a group of Pharisees who were seeking to justify themselves. Jesus tells this story to reveal their unbelief. The Pharisees were lovers of money, St. Luke tells us. Their wealth, wisdom, and works had become their god. They rejected Jesus. For, "if they do not hear Moses and the Prophets" who point to Jesus, nothing will convince them that someone can rise from the dead.
In other words, God's Word gives us faith and confidence before God, not our wealth, wisdom or works, as the Pharisees so foolishly thought. Jesus also tells us this story as a warning to the Pharisee in each of us--our sinful nature--who is full of unbelief, sin, and death. Like the Pharisees, in our sinful nature we think we can justify ourselves with our wealth, wisdom, and works. But these are false gods.
"Lord, I believe, help my unbelief," we pray. Thankfully, Jesus does more than lend a helping hand or give us some good advice. He raises us from the dead by His dying and rising, to which we are joined in Holy Baptism. Jesus speaks to us in His Word of the Prophets and Apostles, giving us faith and trust in Him. Jesus justifies us by His death on the cross for us, and announces the verdict to you in Holy Absolution: "You are forgiven!" Jesus pours out the saving draught of His Body and Blood for our forgiveness in Holy Communion.
Through these gifts, Jesus gives us the great gift of faith, just as He did to Moses and the prophets, all by His Word. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O God, the Strength of all those who put their trust in You, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing, grant us the help of Your grace that in keeping Your commandments we may please You both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Trinity 1)