The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 16:19-31
Today we are privileged to hear one of the most powerful parables that the Lord Jesus Christ ever told. We are told about the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus. There are so many mysteries worth pondering and considering in this one passage but I would like to focus on the tail-end of the conversation between the rich man and Abraham. The rich man is in great pain and torment and begs that Abraham send Lazarus to bring him just a few drops of cool water for his tongue. Abraham responds that he cannot because there is a great divide or chasm between the two and no one from either side may cross to the other side. It reminds us that the state we are in when we leave this life, is the state we will remain in for eternity. This is one of the reasons why the desert saints continually remind us to remember the time of death so that we will always be in the proper mindset, always prepared to meet the Lord.
When the rich man realizes that all is lost, that he cannot receive any aid for himself, he does something that he did not have the capability to do when he was alive. He considers what will happen to others. He is now worried for his 5 brothers. He sees that there is no escape for himself, but pleads that Lazarus be sent to his kin, saying ‘then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham again corrects the rich man saying “they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
It is interesting, Abraham is giving great value to the Old Testament Scriptures. To the books of Moses and to the prophetic books. Do we give any value to these books? Do we give value to any of the books of the Bible in our daily lives? Do we study the Bible with energy, the way we look at our smartphones or study the stock market? The Lord is clearly showing us that these books have the potential to warn us and correct our lives if we will pay attention to them. We can encourage you to study them now. We can encourage you to repent now. We can encourage you to pray now. We can encourage you to take better care of the poor now. However, we can’t change your behavior or habits. This gospel message can’t change your behavior, but at the very least it can help change your perspective. God loves us and this whole passage is a warning to us. When I warn my children to be careful it’s not because I want to be cruel or scary, it is because I love them and don’t want them to be hurt.
So the rich man asks that Lazarus be sent to his brothers and Abraham corrects the rich man saying “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” Now it gets interesting. The rich man replies “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” We have to ask ourselves, “Is that true?” What would we do if someone that we thought was dead, came back to life and began to try and convince us to repent? Well first we would think that either we had lost our minds or they had lost their minds….because people don’t normally come back from the dead. But at the end of the day, most of us would never believe such a story. The Lord knows this because ultimately this story is not about a poor man named Lazarus, it is about the Lord Himself! It is a reminder that even the most amazing event ever in the history of the world, can be completely ignored if our heart is not in the right place and not open to change. The resurrection of Christ has been ignored or dismissed for centuries and even some so-called theologians don’t believe in the actual bodily resurrection of the Lord.
Imagine how amazingly blessed we are to know about the Son of God! We know about His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead. We know the laws and commandments of God. We know what is expected of us as Christians and as human beings. But there’s a catch to having such knowledge. It becomes a double edged sword. The rich man was told that there were no excuses for his behavior or the behavior of his brothers. If we don’t want to end up like the rich man in this parable, we will have to pay attention to the warning. Here are some things we should start doing immediately:
- Pay close attention to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures and New Testament. They are not suggestions, they are commands. We know they exist, but do we know what they say?
- Pay attention to those who are needy around you. We can get really good at ignoring people in need. But when you come into direct contact with the poor, they become your responsibility.
- Don’t assume that we can put these things off another day. Our time here is precious. The Apostle Paul writes “‘Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.’ See then that you walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesian 5:14-16)
God loves us so much that He has taught us through His Word made flesh. He doesn’t want us to walk around clueless, in a constant state of darkness. He doesn’t want us to be caught off guard when there is no time left for us. He wants us to walk in the knowledge and the joy and the light of His Only Son…now… because “now is the acceptable time.”….. And Glory be to God forever AMEN.