In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 16, Jesus tells the Pharisees a story about a beggar named Lazarus and a rich man. Both of them die and wind up in opposite places. More on that in a moment. In our first reading from Jeremiah 17, the Lord curses the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh. But on the other side, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.” I’m hoping that that’s the side on which you and I will be found.
When the rich man dies, he winds up in everlasting torment. He sees Lazarus with Abraham, and asks Father Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his five brothers of their impending fate if they should not change their ways. Abraham says to him, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” A reference, of course, to Christ.
It’s another lesson on what riches and material posessions can do to us. The rich man was living the high life on earth. He probably got to the point where he didn’t even notice Lazarus begging at his doorstep any more. He probably had become like the man in the first part of today’s first reading; putting his trust in human beings, relying on his own strength. “I got mine! You go get your own!” Unfortunately, that only lasts for a short time. Jesus repeatedly warned about the attachment to riches and possessions. The rich man is a stark reminder of where that can land us.
Father, help us to be generous in this life. Teach us to give of our time, talent and treasure, always remembering that the fruits of that kindness will be eternal.