The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

The Lord said that “there was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously each day” (v19). This man possessed every known comfort. Many would say he was successful and had made it. Poor Lazarus “full of sores, lay abandoned at his gate” (v20). Lazarus was consumed with thirst at the very edge of the spring.

The two men then died. The theatre performance, being their lives on Earth, abruptly ended. The masks that they both wore were removed and the truth revealed. The rich man, who wore a kingly mask in this life, was revealed to be poor and empty of all virtue. He was relegated to eternal darkness and torment, not because he was rich but because he was unloving and did not share his blessings with Lazarus.

In contrast, Lazarus, who wore the mask of poverty and suffering in this life, was revealed to have true riches. Lazarus was placed in Abraham’s bosom, not because he was poor, but because he endured his sufferings with patience.

The Lord in His mercy gave both men the opportunity for salvation: the rich man through sharing his abundance, and Lazarus through enduring his suffering.

The parable continues with the plight of the rich man who missed his opportunity. Although on Earth he had every comfort, he now pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus “to dip the end of his finger in water and cool [his] tongue” (v24). But in words that should motivate each of us to repentance, Abraham said that there is a “great chasm” (v26) between heaven and hell that cannot be crossed for the rest of eternity. This chasm means that the time for repentance and good works is in this life, and not the next.

Let us embrace our sufferings with patience. Let us share our blessings with those in need. Let us always give thanks to the Lord for all that He has done for us.

Source: Lychnos October-November 2020