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Showing posts from September, 2010

Hell is yourself

Luke 16:19-31 Sartre famously wrote that 'Hell is other people'. For the existentialist, at the centre of reality, the other person is hell: they are an affront to my independence and to my autonomy. Why should the rich man in this story not do what he wishes? Why should he show any compassion to Lazarus? Lazarus is an inconvenience, an irrelevance. The problem for Sartre is that life, as we experience it, is full of other people. And Jesus, through this story, teaches the complete opposite of Sartre's aphorism. Hell is not other people. Hell is when we live blind to God and blind to others, alive only to self. Hell is yourself. In this story, we have a rich man. He thought that he was at the top of the world. He dressed in the best clothes; he ate the best food. He had the good things in life. But he dies. And then we get the first shock of this story. He goes to the place of torment, to hell. Why? Because he was rich? Certainly Jesus has warned those who are rich, and

The lost sheep and lost coin: Jesus challenges the good people

Luke 15:1-10 In this chapter, Jesus tells us three stories. The first is about a shepherd who goes to search for a lost sheep. He finds the sheep and rejoices. The second is about a woman who searches for a lost coin. She finds the coin and she rejoices. The third (which we didn’t have read today, but is known as the story of the Prodigal son) is about a father who does not go to search for his lost son, but he does wait for his son to return. And when his son returns, he rejoices. But in this story there is also an older son. This older son has stayed at home. He has played by the rules. And when he sees his father welcoming back his younger brother – after all that his younger brother has done, he is furious. It seems that all his work at home has been pointless. And now the Father does go searching. He goes outside to his older son; he pleads with him; and he begs him to come in. [There is, as elsewhere in Luke’s gospel, a hint of Trinity here. The Father, the Son