Archive for category Punishment

Lk 16:19-31 The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

There is a popular misunderstanding about money or riches as the source of all evils. Because of this we tend to believe that the rich is bad and the poor is good. The rich is cursed and the poor is blessed. The rich is destined to hell while the poor to heaven. Hence, at all costs and by all means, money or wealth is to be avoided and stay economically poor and miserable as much as possible.

This appears to be a good news,  a consolation and hope to the poor. But this is not what the Gospel‘s parable teaches us today. Money in itself is not evil and does not make us evil. Rather it is the love of money that is the source of all evils. It is our selfishness, insensitivity, and inhumanity that are the sources of evil and make us bad. It is our being unfaithful, irresponsible and unfruitful stewards and failure to be “merciful just as our Father is merciful” (see Lk 6:36) that make us undeserving to receive the eternal life and happiness in heaven promised by God those who love Him and his people.

The moral lesson is this. Any person  (or rich) who distances himself  from the poor (Lazarus) in this life he will find himself in great torment and in a far distance from the poor who at the side of Abraham enjoying eternal bliss in the next life. And he will be prevented from joining them by great chasm made permanent by God. It is not God who condemns us to hell; it is we who condemn ourselves through a life of selfishness, insensitivity and inhumanity to the poor around us.

The parables asks : Will the five brothers, the readers as well the listeners follow the example of the rich man or heed Jesus’ teaching and that of the OT about care of the needy like Lazarus and thus be children of Abraham. If the brothers, the readers and the listeners do not follow that teaching, they will not have a place at the messianic banquet. Mere words do not make one a child of Abraham and therefore a member of reconstituted Israel. (see JBC 43:151:27) “Dives’ claim that Abraham is his father is of no effect, for he has not produced the deeds of loving kindness that would have signified repentance from his self-centered callous way of life (G. W. E. Nickelsburg, NTS 25 [1978-79] 338).

“My prayer is that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter” (Phil 1:9-10).

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