Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

March 12, 2020

JER 17:5-10/LK 16:19-31

There is the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God. The two do not always agree. That is clearly seen in Israelite history. Time and again, the prophets of God counseled the kings of Judah to trust God, not human beings. For instance, in the eighth century BCE, King Ahaz was pressured into siding with an alliance of two kings against the major power of Assyria. If he did not ally himself with them he risked their invasion, but if he allied with them he risked Assyria’s wrathIn the midst of that difficult time of indecision, the prophet Isaiah told Ahaz that the threat of the kings would pass and that he should not fearA sign that the threat would pass would be was the famous prophecy that “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (Isa 7:14, NAB).  

Much later, Jeremiah informed King Jehoiakim that “cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jer 17:15)What was Jehoiakim doing in turning away from the Lord? At the expense of the poor he was conducting extensive renovations of his palaceJeremiah warned him, “Woe to him who builds his house on wrongdoing, / his roof-chambers on injustice; / Who works his neighbors without pay, / and gives them no wages. / Who says, ‘I will build myself a spacious house, with airy rooms,’ / Who cuts out windows for it, panels it with cedar, and paints it with vermilion” (Jer 21:13-14). 

Centuries later, Jesus’ story about Lazarus continued those themes. The story contrasts a rich man, “dressed in purple . . . and fine linen” with the poor man, Lazarus, “lying at his door” (Lk 16:19-20). The rich man trusted in himself and his wealth, rather than in God. In spite of his finery, he went the way of Babylon and other great powers, going down in torment. In the afterlife, he begged Abraham to warn his wealthy brothers about his fateHowever, Abraham refused to give a warning, stating that his brothers had the teachings of Moses and the prophets as warnings. Today, let us heed those warnings and not look for some further confirmation. 


Dr. Ted Ulrich
Professor, Theology Department