MARCH 4. LENT. WK. 2. THU. LK. 16. 19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity 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.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”
‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them.” “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”’
The central theme of today’s Gospel is the necessity of listening to, and heeding the messages of the Prophets and Teachers sent to us by Almighty God, with the key “prophets” being Jesus Christ, his Church and his Saints.
Jesus revealed many truths and lessons to us via stories and this is a good example, with the rich man totally focused on his own welfare, with no regard for the needs of others, or in this particular example, a desperately needy person sitting at his gate.
We may be inclined to say “it’s a good story” and leave it at that; - but in that case the lesson would not be heard, namely, as followers of Christ we have a duty, referred to by Christ as “The Great Commandment”, to care for the needs of others!
But there is also a second, and important component to this story, and that is we are being told what will happen if we imitate this rich man, and neglect to care for, or show concern for those around us; - and especially anyone “at our gate!”
We need to ponder the illustration used by Christ, where the rich man, after his death cries out: “Father Abraham, pity 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!”
In a nutshell, we are being told if we care only for ourselves, and neglect the needs of those around us we will have to endure eternal suffering that has no relief; - a message, or lesson we will not be able to claim we have not been warned about by God’s “Prophets!”
Similarly, we are also being told suffering borne in this life, as a result of our God given circumstances; - if borne in the manner taught by Christ, and in imitation of His Passion; - will result in eternal happiness in God’s Friendship; - a lesson also taught us by God’s “Prophets!”