Lazarus and the rich man-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
THIS Sunday's gospel in Luke 16:19-31 talks about the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. It continues the theme of the preceding parable - that of the shrewd manager – "that no one can serve the two masters of God and money, for either he will love one and hate the other."
Two major characters were presented in the parable -- the rich man who was unnamed, and the beggar named Lazarus. The rich man lived in luxury all the days of his life, eating the best foods and dressed in the best clothes. Lazarus, on the other hand, lived in misery -- hungry, sick and covered with sores. Every day he laid at the rich man's gate, hoping to eat what fell on the rich man's table, but in vain.
The two protagonists died. The rich man was brought to Hades where he was tormented
by fire, while Lazarus was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham where he was comforted.
What is worth reflecting at this point? One is the reality of eternal reward and eternal punishment. In many verses in the Bible, God reminds us that he will judge us for what we do.
Refuse God's gift of salvation and live a life of sin, and one goes to hell. Accept Jesus' atoning sacrifice on the cross and practice faith in action, and one enjoys the rewards of heaven. Yes, surely, we will reap whatever we sow.
The parable continues. The rich man requests Abraham to ask Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue, for he was in a very agonizing state. Abraham kindly rejects the request, citing the great chasm that separates the place of comfort and the place of torment.
It was then that the rich man begs that Lazarus be sent to his five living brothers so they can be warned to repent, lest they also go to that place of suffering. Abraham replies that they have Moses and the Prophets (meaning, the Old Testament or the Scriptures) to guide them. The rich man then insists that if someone from the dead goes to them, they will have a change of heart. Notice Abraham's response, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
The rich man was punished not because he was rich. Wealth by itself is not bad and can be used to serve God. The rich man was punished because he did not live a life of love. He lived in extravagance and self-indulgence while ignoring the poor man near him who has always hoped for his help.
Lazarus, on the other hand, was rewarded not because he was poor. Not much was said about how he conducted his life, but it can be assumed that he lived a life of love. God is not glorified because Lazarus suffered, but must have been glorified because Lazarus remained faithful to him even in the worst of times.
God left us the written word, the Bible, as a road map in our journey to heaven. He also gave us the living Word, Jesus, who literally "rose from the dead." The question is, "Are we going to accept and apply his Word?" To our answer is hinged our eternal destiny.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 26, 2013.