Sunday, September 29
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 16: 19 – 31
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
‘My child, remember that you received
what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go
from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father,
send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers,
so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'”
Jesus’ story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is about the fate of two individuals after their deaths, which are very much tied to their experiences of wealth and poverty in this life. The Gospel writer, Luke, stresses the way the status of the rich and poor are reversed in the Kingdom of God. Also, make note that the rich man has no name, whereas, Lazarus is the only name given to anyone in Jesus’ parables, and it means “God has helped.”
In his lifetime, the rich man proudly displayed his wealth with beautiful clothes and lavish feasts. Conversely, Lazarus was covered with sores, was hungry, and had only dogs to lick his sores. However, after his death, Lazarus is carried away to an honored place beside Abraham. By contrast, the rich man finds himself in the netherworld, a place of torment and eternal punishment.
Even though he did not have very much when he was on earth, Lazarus trusted in God to take care of him. The rich man, on the other hand, didn’t think he needed anyone. He sure didn’t need God. He had everything that he needed. At least, that is what he thought.
Friends, what does today’s parable say to us? First, we know that God is concerned about the poor and He expects us to also be concerned. We are to help the poor, feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit prisoners, and work for justice because that’s simply who and how God’s people are to be. The question isn’t what’s in it for me, but what’s in it for them.
Second, there is a relationship between this life and the next life. The choices we make, the words we speak, and the actions we take in this life have consequences in the next life.
Today’s parable is not a judgment that rich people go to hell and poor people go to heaven. It isn’t so much about our future but more about our present lives. It’s about how we live here and now. So, how are you doing?
-Deacon Paul Zemanek