In his novel The Great Divorce, the lay theologian C.S. Lewis imagined the arrival of a soul to the afterlife. Lewis describes Hell as a dingy place where it’s always twilight and people are quarrelsome. In his description of Hell, Lewis says that whenever they want, the souls in Hell can make their houses bigger, and farther and farther apart, until each soul is effectively isolated and alone.
Now that’s not how Jesus describes Hell for the Rich Man in today’s reading, but maybe it offers another analogy to understand what happened to him. In the Parable, Jesus doesn’t say that the Rich Man purposely committed a horrible act, but rather the problem lies with what he failed to do – because he wanted things his way.
It ought to be a wake up call for us now, in our very individualistic world.
When I was a kid in high school in the 60’s a big hit was Frank Sinatra singing “I Did it My Way." It’s really hard not to be influenced or even swept away in the individualist tidal wave. I have had to recognize in my own life how I have been affected by this notion of "doing things my way."
Popular culture tends to celebrate doing "whatever it takes" to be successful and rich, or to have an ultimate goal of personal freedom, to do "whatever you want."
Having too many kids would be a burden! Marriage? Sticking with long term commitment? That's unrealistic, some say.
Especially as we look around during Covid we can see the consequences of doing it my way. We have created a very lonely world. I think of people I have known, now in the later part of their lives, alone and very lonely.
Lent is time to contemplate Jesus’ Way that welcomes each person into a beautiful network, a tapestry woven by self-sacrificing love!
From Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis all the way through the Book of Revelation: it is about becoming part of the Body of Christ, a great family of families, interconnection, to be led into the fullness of life, eternal life.
Such a truly awesome vision – yet an essential element of this vision is simply THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.
Man and Woman, made in the image of God, becoming family, an icon of God’s love.
In everyday life, what a beautiful thing to see: often messy and imperfect but still trying to mirror the Holy Family. Family is God’s way to create happy, holy, human beings - Saints in this life and the next.
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About Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C., is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary as part of the Family Rosary team. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!