The rich man and Lazarus

Luke tells us that the Pharisees ‘loved money.’ They saw their wealth as a sign of God’s favour. With this parable, Jesus challenges, indeed, reverses the Pharisees’ view. At the banquet in God’s kingdom, the last will be first; the poor man Lazarus sits in the place of honour, with Abraham. The rich man addresses Abraham as ‘Father,’ but he has not lived as a true son of Abraham. He has been indifferent to the suffering of the poor man at his gate, ignoring the teaching of Moses and the prophets that the rich are obliged to act justly and to show concern for the poor. Now the rich man is cut off by an unbridgeable gulf from the joys of heaven – just as he was apparently remote from the sufferings of Lazarus in life. The parable warns us not to think that we can remain secure in worldly wealth and luxury, but to open our eyes to the suffering of our brothers and sisters, and to respond with care and compassion.

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