I was afraid
because I was naked.
We all have a sense of right and wrong. How did we get it? Our parents ate from the wrong tree according to Genesis. You might think their first experience of this reluctant gift of God would be positive. It wasn’t. It says their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. It was uncomfortable. They wanted to cover themselves. This extreme self-awareness moved them to make some sort of clothing out of leaves.
They wanted something between them and everything else. Like a baby separated from their mother’s womb, they cried out in discomfort. The shock of their new ability brought responsibility and a feeling of separateness from everything else. As they felt the nakedness of their bodies, we eventually feel the nakedness of our soul. The small child shows all their feelings with their body and face. But what if those feeling are not good?
Instead of happiness for your friend’s gain, you feel jealousy. Or you want to hide your wrongdoing. You train your body and face not to reveal your thoughts and feelings.
How far do we go? Don’t show your fear. Don’t show your delight in your enemies downfall. Don’t show your disappointment at losing and don’t show the anger at the unfairness you feel. Don’t show your raw emotions at all. Soon our soul is hidden from others. Or so we think.
Now we know one thing about life after death: we don’t take our bodies with us. The body we trained to hide our soul is left behind. What you are is plain to all. All sophistication and fashion are of no use. Your soul is revealed. Does this frighten you? To be unmasked.
Or will you be like a butterfly that casts off it’s covering and reveals it’s colorful wings and marvelous new shape ready for new experiences.
Has your soul grown up into something good? What did you do in your lifetime that prepared you for the next life. Just because the door is closed to the living doesn’t mean there is nothing behind it.
Time has stopped and change has become more difficult. What can you do? You must be yourself as you really are. Some said to enjoy yourself but can you? Can you enjoy yourself as you really are?
Let’s look at a strange story Jesus told. Strange because it names the beggar.
A rich man lived in luxury. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus who was covered with sores and longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs would come and lick his sores. The beggar dies and angels carry him to Abraham’s side. The rich man dies and is buried.
In hades, in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus at his side. “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue because I am in agony.”
“Remember, in life, you received good things while Lazarus received bad. Now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides this, there is a great chasm between us. We cannot cross over it nor can you.” “Then, send Lazarus to warn my brothers of this place.” “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.”
The rich man had taken little notice of Lazarus as he went in and out of his gate. Yet, he knows his name and identifies him in the afterlife. He did nothing for Lazarus in life. But now, in the afterlife, he wants Lazarus to do for him. He still sees Lazarus as lower than himself and has elevated him from beggar to his servant.
This shows us how nothing has changed in the man’s character. He still thinks he should be served. What does not enter his thoughts is that Lazarus was there at his gate to help the rich man change. If he had shown mercy on the beggar, his character may have changed and he might have become generous to those in need. Every time he passed Lazarus, he hardened his heart toward him. He probably justified himself by thinking this was somehow God’s will for himself and Lazarus. He was to enjoy life while Lazarus was to suffer.
What of Lazarus? He is silent. He accepted his lot in life. He does not cry out against the rich man. He was carried to the rich man’s gate. He was carried by angels to be near Abraham. And what is his comfort? He is together with Abraham.
What is the torment of the rich man? First, he is alone with himself. All his relationships have failed him. He was not grateful for his good life. He deserved it. He never laid hold on the Giver of all good things. Who torments him? No one. His agony is internal. He has no relationship to help him. He is a son of Abraham but never grew in faith. He is not like Abraham at all. His dryness is lack of the water of life given freely by God.
The most terrible thing is that the rich man has not changed at all. He cares nothing for Abraham or Lazarus. He only is aware of himself. His soul is dry. He took no care for it’s condition in his life. He is simply a man alone without the gifts of God. He does not even acknowledge the one who gives to men that they might ask for more.
If you knew the gift of God
and who asks you for a drink,
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.