Saturday, September 28, 2013

Neither Will They be Persuaded

“If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”  This statement is striking for two reasons.  First, the problem with our relationship with God is not a lack of evidence, but a lack of faith or love.  Second, Jesus is speaking in reference to His own resurrection.

This statement from Abraham comes after the rich man’s plea to go and warn his brothers about hell, “this place of torment.”  Abraham says that such a plea would be pointless.  They have already been warned by Abraham and the prophets.  But surely, says the rich man, seeing a man raised from the dead would convince them!  However, the problem with men is not evidence but faith.  We trust in our own knowledge above the knowledge of another.  We refuse to submit our intellects to Moses, the prophets, Jesus, the Apostles, and their successors, the bishops, the Magisterium.

By choosing to put our faith in God’s words, which has been mediated to us through human persons (most pre-eminently in Jesus) we are not doing violence to our intellect, but bringing it to fulfillment.  By trust in God who is faithful, we open ourselves to a deeper, more fulfilling truth beyond the reach of the human intellect.  We grasp reality more fully when we believe in revelation.

Seeing a man rise from the dead doesn’t directly prove that what has been revealed has been true.  However, it does confirm that God is at work.  We are left free to choose whether or not we believe what God has revealed.  We can still refuse to believe in God’s mercy and in his promise of eternal beatitude.  Even if we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, we can disbelieve his teachings about the permanence of marriage between one man and woman.

Jesus’ resurrection proves His divine authority, but it remains up to us whether or not we believe what is revealed by that authority.  Are we going to trust God or will we turn away in unbelief?  Will we be like the rich man and his brothers or like Lazarus, who despite his destitution hoped in God for relief?

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