Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Lazarus and the Rich Man
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."
But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."
He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."
Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them."
"No, father Abraham," he said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."
He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
It is interesting that for many of our homeless and marginalized brothers and sisters, they are forced into a life of wandering anonymity whilst the rich are celebrated and honored, but Jesus here names and welcomes the poor man and leaves the wealthy one anonymous.
The rich man is not condemned as evil or a non-believer, it just notes that he is rich and literally outside his gate, the poor were literally suffering and dying.
The rich man appeals for Lazarus' help, after apparently ignoring Lazarus all those years.
There is no help forthcoming, because there is a "chasm" that had been set in place... one can't help wonder: Who set the chasm in place? Could it be that this is the rich man's own chasm that he had separated himself?
The rich man was worried about his presumably also-wealthy family, that they might suffer the same fate as he did.
Whatever your thoughts about the Bible, this is a great story - powerful, moving, tragic and compelling.