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Friday, September 27, 2013



Luke 16:19-31

This parable is not a social commentary against  material wealth nor the canonization of poverty; otherwise the rich will all go to hell while the poor will all go to heaven, which is not the case.  In the reversal of social roles at the end of the parable, the rich man was not condemned because of his wealth nor Lazarus was rewarded because he was poor.   In the context of the hospitality of God, how do we use our resources to make a difference in the lives of others particular the poor?

We see the contrast between the rich man and Lazarus both when they were alive and after death.   The rich man was dressed in fine linen and feasted everyday while Lazarus was covered with sores and begged for scraps falling from the rich man’s table, with dogs licking his sores.  After death, the rich man was buried and was tormented in hell while Lazarus was carried to the bosom of Abraham.  Now the rich man was the one begging Abraham for a little water from Lazarus and pleaded for his five brothers not to suffer the torments he was in.

The parable did not say that the rich man defrauded anyone nor his wealth was ill-gotten. Definitely the rich man saw and knew Lazarus laying at his gate but it was not mentioned that the rich man was mean to Lazarus.  So what was the rich man’s crime against Lazarus that he deserved to be punished with such horrendous fate in hell?   He was punished not because he did something evil against Lazarus but because he failed to do something good to him  We call it the sin of omission.  In contrast to the parable last Sunday, the dishonest manager made use of his master’s wealth to practice charity even though it was unlawful.  The rich man kept everything unto himself and was forgetful about the needs of Lazarus.

This parable is a reminder not just to the rich but to all of us who might be enjoying the status of our comfort zones and yet indifferent to the needs of the poor.  We might not be doing evil against others but we might not be doing good either.  During judgment day, we will be judged not by the prayers we have said nor the acts of piety we have practiced but by the charity we have done or failed to do to others:  “Lord when did we do this to you?”  “As long as you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it unto me.”  “Lord when did we not do this to you?”  “As long as you did not do this to the least of my brethren, you did not do it unto me” (Mt. 25:31-46).

     This parable speaks to any corrupt government in the world or institutions and individuals that capitalize on the poverty of people.  In this crime against humanity, the cry of justice by the poor pierces the heart of God!

We have to recognize that Jesus is the Lazarus who gives us opportunities to be truly rich otherwise we fail to encounter God in the many surprised divine visitations in our lives. The only things we can bring with us after we die are not those we keep unto ourselves but rather those we have given away to the Lazarus in our doors.  

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