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.’ Abraham replied, ‘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.’”
This was the Gospel reading from last Thursday.
This one has always stuck out to me.
If a heart can grimace,
that is exactly what mine does when I read this parable.
You can probably see it in my face too.
The rich man who had everything he could ever want,
had the opportunity to feed Lazarus.
And feed him scraps at that.
But he refused.
He would not feed the man in dire need
with even the scraps from his own table.
Lazarus had nothing.
Nothing material, no food, no riches.
But upon death,
Lazarus had everything he could ever imagine.
He gained Heaven.
He no longer had need or want of anything.
Upon the death of the rich man,
he no longer had anything but
pain, suffering, and torment.
The rich man thought that he might make a request:
he wanted Lazarus only to dip his finger in water
to cool the rich man’s burning tongue.
When I sit and think about that request,
I can only begin to imagine the pain of hell.
I’ve burnt myself a fair number of times over the years.
Immediately, I head for the sink so as to have a flow of cool water
to mask the pain.
Sure, it makes it feel better,
but it still burns terribly.
And continues to burn for a good while.
These burn experiences don’t even begin to compare to the pain in hell.
The rich man begging for just a drop of water
makes my stomach churn.
Oh the pain.
And I feel such pity for the rich man who then asks
for his brothers to be warned by Lazarus.
He believes that if a dead person comes,
then his brothers will believe.
Abraham assures the rich man that Moses and the prophets
will witness to his brothers.
The rich man says it will take someone rising from the dead
in order for his brother to repent.
Abraham responds that if the message of the prophets does not change them,
then the dead coming back to life will not change them either.
I feel so much pity for this rich man.
But how often am I this rich man?
How many times can I give and I don’t?
How many times has Jesus tried to get my attention and He can’t?
How many times have I asked for a bigger and better revelation?
Too many times.
I’d rather be Lazarus here on Earth so that I can be granted the grace of Heaven.
Here’s the poor,
May we one day be granted the joy of Heaven.