Archive for the ‘Rich Man & Lazarus’ Category

The Lazarus You Know — 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time—Year C

September 25, 2016

Sunday Readings

Lazarus at the Rich Man's Door

The Lord says though the prophet Amos, “Woe to the complacent,” to those warm and well-fed, comfortable on their couches without concern for others. Indeed, Scripture says, “whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1st John 4:20) You know of Jesus’ concern for the needy. Though he was rich, dwelling in the comfort of the Trinity, our Lord came to earth and became poor for your sake, so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2nd Corinthians 8:9) The rich man in Jesus’ parable could not have been unaware of the man lying at his door. Apparently, the rich man even knew his name: “Father Abraham…  Send Lazarus…” But the rich man came to deeply regret his indifference toward this neighbor.

You know a Lazarus as well. He’s not sleeping on your doorstep, but you probably know his name. He (or she) may be well-known to you or only an acquaintance. Maybe Lazarus goes to your church, or hasn’t come for years. Maybe Lazarus lives just down the street or in a nursing home far away. Your Lazarus is in great need, but probably not for food or shelter.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, who cared for many Lazaruses in India’s slums, said, “The spiritual poverty of the Western World is much greater than the physical poverty of our people.” The poorest of the poor are in our midst. Knowing this, I ask that you to earnestly pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may reveal your personal Lazarus to you, so that you may lovingly attend to that person as Jesus would have you do.

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A Game of Monopoly & the Rich Man

March 10, 2015

Lazarus at the Rich Man's DoorGospel: Luke 16:19-31
Thursday, 2nd Week of Lent

    A UC-Berkley psychology professor sets two people down for an experiment: the pair will play a game of Monopoly with modified rules. One player will get the Rolls Royce while the other will be the old shoe. The player with the car will start with $2,000 and play by standard Monopoly rules, while the old shoe’s player gets $1,000, rolls just one die (making doubles impossible,) and collects only $100 for passing “Go.” Who gets which is decided by a fateful coin-flip. At the end of the game, the professor asks the winner (invariably the Rolls Royce player) whether they feel like they deserved to win the game. And the winner always says ‘yes.’

    I can understand the winner’s perspective. At the beginning of the game both players had a fair chance of winning (for either could have ended up with the car,) but the winner won that coin flip, played by the rules, and did what was necessary to arrive at victory. If the winner had cheated the loser, stealing cash or refusing rents, then that victory would feel undeserved.

Abraham, Lazarus, and the Rich Man    The Rich Man who showed no concern for poor Lazarus may have felt like one of those Rolls Royce players. He “dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day,” but nothing in the text indicates that he had defrauded or exploited anyone to obtain his wealth. Maybe he looked at poor people like Lazarus and shrugged, “Some receive what is good in their lifetimes while others receive what is bad,” words that Father Abraham would throw back in his face. Perhaps the Rich Man had not so much perpetrated evils, but rather (ignoring the Scriptures) felt no responsibility to help the less fortunate outside his door.

    May the one who reads this—a winner in the coin-toss of life—not be condemned for failing to give alms.

Insights Into The Rich Man & Lazarus

September 29, 2013

● The name Lazarus means “one who has been helped.”

● Though presumably well known while he lived, the rich man’s name is never mentioned. St. Augustine says this is because God did not find the rich man’s name written in heaven.

● The rich man has traditionally been given the name “Dives” (the Latin word for “rich.”)

● Purple was the ancient world’s most expensive clothing color; it took 240,000 sea snails and a complex process to produce one ounce of “Royal Purple” dye.

● Being rich, in and of itself, is not a sin; Abraham, David, and Joseph of Arimathea were all rich and friends of God.

● Dives’ sin was his loveless indifference to a person in need he could have easily helped.

● Dives did not use his mammon to win friends like last week’s Gospel teaches.

● Dogs’ saliva has healing properties. In licking Lazarus’ (salty) wounds the dogs did him more good than Dives ever did.

● Dives couldn’t have missed Lazarus lying at his gate. In fact, Dives apparently even knew his name: “Send Lazarus…”

● Even after his condemnation for failing to serve Lazarus, Dives asks that Lazarus serve him; he asks Abraham to send Lazarus to “cool my tongue” and “to my father’s house.”

● St. Peter Chrysologus sees envy behind Dives’ requests: “He does not ask to be led to Lazarus but wants Lazarus to be led to him.”

● St. Augustine speculates that Dives and his brothers used to make fun of the prophets and doubted there was any existence after death.

● Those who do not see that Moses and the prophets speak about Jesus Christ are also unconvinced by Jesus’ rising from the dead.

● St. Jerome suggests that Dives’ five brothers are the five senses he served and loved so much.

● Even after he is condemned, Father Abraham still calls Dives “Son.” St. Ephraim notes that Abraham, who showed strangers kindness & asked mercy for Sodom, was unable to have mercy on one who showed no mercy.

● Abraham represents God, who forgives only the merciful, but who loves even those who are separated from him forever.

Rich Man’s Loss — 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

September 26, 2010

[The rich man] 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.”

Why does the rich man suffer in flames? It’s not that Abraham is unaware of him, for when the rich man speaks Abraham answers him. And it’s not that Abraham no longer acknowledges him, for Abraham calls him “my child.” It’s not that Abraham lacks in mercy, for Abraham once intervened to spare a city of sinners. The rich man is not in the flames because of Abraham, or Moses, or the prophets of God, for if he had listened to them he would not be in torment.

So why does the rich man suffer in flames? He suffers because he feasted each day, while Lazarus starved. Because he dressed in fine linen, while Lazarus went naked. Because he was clothed in purple, while Lazarus was covered in purple sores. Yet the rich man is not in the flames because he is rich, for King David was far richer than he and is heralded as a man after God’s own heart. The rich man suffers because the dogs who licked Lazarus’ wounds showed the poor man more kindness than he ever did.

The rich man was not unaware of Lazarus lying at his door, for he had passed him enough times to recognize him when he saw him. The rich man even knew Lazarus by name, for he calls out, “Father Abraham… Send Lazarus…”  The rich man suffers in flames because he did not care about Lazarus. The rich man suffers because he did not love. If we wish to avoid the flames, we should ponder and act on this question: Who is Lazarus in your life?