Gospel: Luke 16:19-31
Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores. It happened that the poor man died, and angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From the netherworld where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire!’
Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.’
The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live. Let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.’”
“They will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.”
The situations of the rich man and Lazarus in life are reversed after death. While in life the rich man dressed in purple linen and feasted every day. Now the rich man suffers continuous torment. He ignored Lazarus, who in life merely wished for table scraps from his table. Now they are separated by a chasm that cannot be bridged—a chasm that reproduces the breach which in life prevented the rich man from even acknowledging the existence of Lazarus.
For those who live in the affluent world, indifferent to the misery of the majority who struggle to survive, the message of this parable could not be more challenging. Pope Francis has spoken of the effects of affluence and consumerism that foster a “culture of indifference” that makes it impossible even to see our brothers and sisters. “Who weeps for these?” he says, referring to families who drown in the sea while seeking to escape from lives of misery. The deaths of countless poor people is simply a statistic, an anecdote that doesn’t disturb our sleep, or sup- press our appetites.
What if one of them could come back from death to warn us of the fate that awaits us? Yet we already have Moses and the Prophets. For that matter, we have Jesus, who died and returned from the dead. What more do we need?
© Copyright Bible Diary 2019