September 30, 2010

Reflection: The Rich Man and Lazarus

SCRIPTURE: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen 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. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” Luke 16:19-24 (NIV)

TRANSITION: As a means to bring home a lesson from this scripture I would like to ask a couple of questions. Do you use or have used an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning? A lot of alarm clocks have a button on them called a snooze alarm. When your alarm goes off, you can hit that button and go back to sleep. In about ten minutes, the alarm will go off again. You can just keep on doing this and go right on sleeping.

God sound a wake-up alarm in our lives!

Did you know that God sometimes sounds a “wake up” alarm in our lives? He speaks to our heart and says, “It is time to wake up and follow me.” Some people hit the snooze button and say, “Not now Lord, call me again—a little bit later.” Some people hit that “snooze button” so many times that they get to where they don’t ever hear God’s voice. When they finally wake up, they find out that it is too late. That is what happened in our Bible story today.

Jesus told a story about a rich man who wore the finest clothes and lived in luxury. A beggar named Lazarus lay outside the rich man’s gate. Lazarus was hungry and his body was covered with sores. He was hoping that the rich man might have pity on him and that he might be able to satisfy his hunger with the leftovers from the rich man’s table. But every day the rich man passed by Lazarus without even giving him a thought. I imagine that he passed by Lazarus so many times that he eventually go to the point that he didn’t see him at all.

The Bible says that Lazarus died and went to heaven. The rich man also died, but he went to hell. In hell, he looked up and saw Lazarus in heaven with Abraham. He asked Abraham to let Lazarus dip his finger in water and come and touch it to his burning tongue, but Abraham sand, “No.” Then he reminded the rich man how he had enjoyed such good things on earth while Lazarus had nothing.

The rich man asked Abraham to allow Lazarus to go back to earth and warn his five brothers so that they would not end up in hell with him, but again, Abraham said , “No.” The rich man finally woke up, but it was too late.

Back to our alarm clock analogy.

God is sending “wake-up” calls to people today. Let us pray that we will listen to his voice and follow him before it is too late.

Dear Father, when you sound the alarm telling us it is time to wake up and follow you, many we never be guilty of hitting the snooze alarm saying, “Later, Lord.” Instead, let us rise up and follow you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Thomas said...

This is a great blog. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

It disgusts me how many Catholics pick on the rich. They interpret the Dives/Lazarus parable as being some kind of condemnation of being rich.

How much do you have to give away to get into heaven? How rich do you have to be to merit damnation? These are ridiculous questions. There are no possible answers to them. And there will never be. It is a completely relative area. And Catholics should rationally avoid relativism wherever possible. It is simply bad reasoning, and causes pain and fear.

God does not put restrictions on how we spend our money. Anyone who says otherwise is speaking a heresy; specifically, they are going beyond what we as Catholics can legitimately say. Nobody, in the Catholic worldview, can dictate to you how to spend your money. It is not our place. And nobody should be putting guilt or fear into you to "give to the poor" or else risk eternal damnation. This is not a Catholic view at all. It is an evil view.
Money is not required. Just love.

Mother Theresa once said "It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Theresa also said that "...when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, 'How many good things have you done in your life?' rather he will ask, 'How much love did you put into what you did?"

How much money do you have to give away to avoid hell? None. I'm rich, and I give virtually NOTHING away. The Catholic priest I talked to about these issues said that there are far more important things in this world than money. Giving of yourself, or your intellect, or your heart, or your service to others and to the Church; these things are far more important than any money. They can't even compare.