Trinity First Sunday Morning Prayer (19 June 2022)
John was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He loved Jesus more than everyone. He was called the ‘Disciple of love’ because of his love for Jesus. He wrote his epistle before he was deported to Patmos. John also spoke about the Father’s love in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. Father’s love gave Jesus to this world. Jesus’ love gave salvation to us. Today’s meditation is based on both our Epistle and Gospel reading portions from 1 John 4 and Luke 16. 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God”.
When Jesus ministered in this world, He consolidated the Ten Commandments into two prime commandments based on Father’s love. The first four commandments talk about our relationship with God. We can read them in Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it”. Jesus consolidated these four commandments into one prime commandment. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). When we follow this commandment, we are fulfilling the first four Old Testament commandments.
Commandments 5 to 10 talk about God’s expectation on our relationship with other humans. They say, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's”. These six commandments were consolidated into one prime commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). When we follow this commandment, we are fulfilling the Old Testament commandments five to ten.
It is commonly said that the Old Testament laws and commandments became invalid when Jesus gave these two New Testament commandments. But Jesus said “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”. Jesus also said in Matthew 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Jesus lived His life fulfilling the laws and commandments. He gave us an example to follow. When Jesus gave the two commandments, He based them on love. The second New Testament commandment is a more stringent than the Old Testament Commandments. It tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves.
In today’s Gospel portion, we read about the rich man and Lazarus. Some theologians believe this is a real incident and some believe this is a parable. The rich man’s name is not mentioned in the Bible. But the poor man’s name Lazarus means ‘God is my help’. There was a rich man who lived a very comfortable and luxurious life. There was a beggar named Lazarus who was laid at the rich man’s gate. The rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen but Lazarus was full of sores and dogs licked his sores. The rich man ate delicious meals but Lazarus desired to be fed with crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. After a while, both of them died. The angels carried Lazarus into Abraham’s bosom. Lazarus was in heaven and the rich man was in hell. The rich man lifted upon his head and saw Lazarus in heaven and sitting in Abraham’s bosom. The rich man requested Abraham to send Lazarus with his finger in water to cool his tongue. Abraham said it was not possible. The rich man requested Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to testify to his brothers. But Abraham told him that his brothers had the prophets and that they had to listen to them.
In the parable, we read that Lazarus was always sitting in front of the rich man’s house. In those days, after they had eaten enough, people used to wipe their greasy hands with a piece of bread and throw it away. Poor people used to wait to fill themselves with these bread crumbs that were thrown away. Lazarus was also waiting to be fed from leftovers from the rich man’s table.
When God gave the laws to the Israelites, He expected the people of Israel to take care of the less fortunate. He expected the Israelites to treat strangers well, help the poor, offer tithes to support the Levites, aliens, the fatherless, and widows, be generous to the needy. The rich man had plenty, but he did not obey God’s laws. He was not generous to the poor man laid at his gate. He did not exhibit love and kindness.
Let us self-reflect on ourselves. Jesus loved us and gave His life to redeem us from our sins and eternal death. He showed us He loved us this much when He hung with outstretched arms on the Cross. Do we love our Lord with all our heart, soul and mind? What will be our answer if Jesus asks if we love Him? I am sure we will all say we love Jesus. Jesus’s response will be, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”.
Like the rich man, we have been blessed abundantly by our Lord. Are we sharing our blessings with others? Are we mindful of and reaching out to those in need? Matthew 7:12 says “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Are we following this teaching of Jesus? 1 John 4:20 says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” We cannot say we love God without loving our neighbours. He expects us to love our fellow humans and show them His love. Do we love our neighbours as ourselves? “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” If we are lacking in loving God or our neighbours, let us look up to our Lord and pray that He fills us with His love. Let us pray!
Our heavenly Father, we thank you for Your words. Thank you for your love that redeemed us from or sins. Thank you for You love that has made us worthy by Your precious blood. Give us Your grace to love You. Help us to love others and share your love with them. Help us to keep Your commandments and prepare us to inherit our eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!