The parable for this week, “The Rich Man and Lazarus”, has many humorous parts to it, though perhaps the editor is influenced by Godspell. Taking it piece by piece, there’s the setup—a rich man and a very poor man who have a chasm (wealth, circumstance, desires and others) between them. Then in Hades, the rich man begs for a cool sip of water “for I am in agony.” And there’s Father Abraham who apparently has no sympathy—you had your time, now it’s Lazarus’ time. There are others but the last is the best when Father Abraham says “if your brothers won’t believe the prophets, they also will not believe someone who rises from the dead.” So how do you parse this parable?
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Jesus said, “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers– that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
From sermon4kids.com: “God is still sending “wake up” calls to people today. Let us pray that they will listen to his voice and follow him before it is too late.”
Collect: O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: What is wealth to God?
Eye Candy: “The feast of Dives” [Dives is the name given the rich man] by master of James iV of Scotland, 16th century; “A page of images“, and a meditation; “Lazarus and Dives“, illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach
Contemporary Parables (aka Movies): “The Rich Man and Lazarus“, kid-friendly story; “Rich Man and Lazarus“, youth skit from Liverpool; skit “Rich man and Lazarus” from Godspell, and subsequent song “O bless the Lord, my soul” [the skits from Godspell are incomplete without the accompanying song; and if you need a total Godspell redo, look at the rest from this group]
Here’s an image depicting Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs [click to enlarge]. Now re-read the gospel lesson and the New Testament lesson. How do these lessons fit with Maslow’s Hierarchy. What is uncomfortable about what you read in the two lessons? What gives you comfort? Post your thoughts, if you wish to share
We invite you to be a part of our celebration of Jesus Christ dying and rising in the midst of His people. In the gospel reading today, we hear his parable of Dives and Lazarus with its warning that failure to respond to the gospel in ministry to others can result in losing our place in his Kingdom. Christian living includes care for the poor, the sick and the helpless, actions fully as holy as worship and prayer.
In a similar vein to the gospel reading, the prophet Amos warns the rich of his own day. Their indolent enjoyment of their own riches, combined with lack of concern for the poor and needy, will lead to their exile from God’s land and presence. Amos’s prophecy came true when in 722 B. C. the Assyrians destroyed Israel and the wealthy nobles were the first to go into exile.
Again, today, we read from the first epistle of Timothy. This book of practical advice for Christian living urges that the Christian man or woman remain faithful to Christ’s commandments. Furthermore, the rich within the Christian community are to practice generosity, lest their riches become a barrier to the new life in Christ, which God has given us.
When we celebrate the Eucharist, we gather as one people regardless of our material or social standing. As disciples we respond to God’s love in worship and are sent forth to embody that love of God in concrete acts of care for the poor and helpless.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.