Luke 16:19-31 NRSVue

19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side., 24He 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.’ 25But 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. 26Besides 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.’ 27He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31He 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.’ ”

Some thoughts on this scripture

Some people can enjoy the height of fashion. For them, life is a daily feast in well-defended mansions. In contrast the poor are clothed in running sores and lie among dogs. They are famished and weak, and are excluded from the good things of life. Both rich and poor die, but then their fortunes are reversed. Because God is pure compassion, the poor are brought straight into the kingdom of God, while the rich have to endure the pain of conversion. I ponder the mysterious workings of God’s providence.

The rich think of the poor as their servants. Twice in the story the rich man asks God to send the poor man on errands that will help his own cause. But self-centred choices gain no credit in God’s eyes. The hearts of the rich must melt when the see the plight of the poor. I pray for the rich that they be converted, and I ask to be shown how to share my own possessions with the needy.