The Permanence of Hell & Heaven
3/17/22 Thursday Mass Readings Reflection
“Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.”
We tend to take for granted the opportunity to repent, and to change. But Christ illustrates with our Gospel today that in the next life, that there is a type of fixed state we find ourselves. If we are in hell, we abandon all hope. If we are in heaven we rest and are not concerned with temptation.
Consider the Richman who asks Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his tongue. It indicates that there is no repentance here possible. The Rich man is still treating Lazarus as though he were inferior to him, in this request for service. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the only type of repentance in hell that is possible is the type of regret for the consequences of our sin. But the very malice and sin we’ve married is fixed. Its the type of repentance my mother would call out by saying to me as a child: “You aren’t sorry. You are just sorry you got caught.”
Its important to recognize that this fluid nature to life is not going to continue in the next life. This ability to change our interior life will cease. When we die, we will be like clay placed in the oven - and however we’ve been formed, that will be set in place. Let us take this life seriously, and ensure that we are a people who care for figures like Lazarus, so that we are like Christ. That said: what are you doing for Almsgiving this Lent?
“Now the motive for giving alms is to relieve one who is in need. Wherefore some have defined alms as being "a deed whereby something is given to the needy, out of compassion and for God's sake," which motive belongs to mercy…”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, Q. 32, A1