PRAYERS FOR THE DECEASED
“…The poor man (Lazarus) died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus at his bosom. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm (χάσμα μέγα) has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’” (Lk 16: 22-26)
Do we conclude, from this parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus, that our prayers for the deceased can’t “help” them? No. Because the “great chasm” of which Abraham speaks has been crossed by One of us, the God-Man, Jesus Christ. And in His Spirit, in Whom Christ crossed over into Hades in His life-giving death, and in Whom we pray for our beloved deceased, we offer up prayers not powerless, but Spirit-filled, with His life-giving power. Jesus Christ opens up for us a kingdom far greater, more far-reaching, than just “the bosom of Abraham.” Because He is indeed “greater than our father Abraham” (Jn 8: 53), and extends “mercy,” seated at the right hand of the Father, as Abraham could not.
So on this Memorial Saturday, right before Pentecost, let me offer up prayers for our deceased with renewed hope, in His name and in His Spirit. “For You are the resurrection, the life, and the repose of Your departed servants, Christ our God, and to You we offer glory, with Your eternal Father who is without beginning and Your all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.” Amen!