Luke 16: 19-31
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.”Verses 19-21 (NIV)
I think because my parents knew the hardship of coming to Canada with two kids and only two suitcases, they also knew the hardships of those who just did not have enough. Although I do not remember my family being generous in a monetary way, they were always there with food, clothing, and the labour of their hands (and our hands as well). One thing was certain, there was never any negative or bad talk about poor people around our house. It was not allowed.
Jesus and the prophets of God who brought God’s Word to the people, had sympathy for the poor and often rebuked rich people who were selfish and did nothing for the poor. In this parable, the poor man Lazarus, who died, was carried by angels to Abraham’s side in heaven, and the rich man was sent to hell, where he was in torment.
The rich man had lived for his own pleasure and had ignored the message of Moses and the Prophets. Lazarus had no comfort in life, but in death he received the blessings of life with God in heaven.
I have read that this parable was a comfort to many slaves in the American South in the 1800s. One of their spiritual songs speaks of God as the “Rock of my soul” in “the bosom of Abraham” – an expression referring to “Abraham’s side.” Where could those slaves find justice when their children were ripped from their arms and sold down the river, when the earthly powers and people were stacked against them? But the Lord saw their plight and he will bring justice to their oppressors.
In this parable, the rich man’s sin was not that he was rich; it was that he refused to care for a person in need. His stony heart ignored the call to share food with the hungry and to provide shelter and clothing for people in need (Isaiah 58:7). There are still many who look for kindness and justice and search in vain to find it. As followers of Jesus we are called to be that kind word, that hand up and the voice of justice and peace.
Lord, instill in us your heart of compassion, and lead us to do some good with the earthly treasures you have given us. In the name of the Jesus who has compassion on us, Amen.