In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 16, Jesus tells the Pharisees the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus is a poor beggar who waits by the rich man’s door each day hoping for just scraps from the table. They both die and end up in opposite places – Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham and the rich man in eternal torment.
The rich man asks if he can return to warn his brothers, lest they wind up in the same place. That was a no go. Abraham ends with, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” This is an obvious reference to Jesus.
Why did the two end up in opposite places? Are poor people automatically guaranteed heaven, just because they’re poor? Are rich people destined for hell just because they’re rich? The answers are no and no. Interestingly, the poor have an advantage because they haven’t the means to be stingy, to withhold things from others, to accumulate and hoard. (This doesn't mean they can't be stingy in other ways, but you get what I mean.) The rich are the ones who are disadvantaged because of their great means. They must be generous and use their means wisely to help others, lest they suffer the same fate as the man in today’s story.
Father, you have blessed us with so much. May we use our great wealth wisely, being good stewards of all that you have given us, always helping others less fortunate. Amen.
If you’ve been blessed with the means to do so, I hope you’ll consider blessing your entire parish with copies of any of the five books in the A Minute in the Church series for Christmas. You can get them for $1 a copy in bulk today at www.GusLloyd.com.