Gospel Meditation

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad.'” Today’s Gospel reading is Jesus’ parable about a “rich man,” whose name we do not know, and a “poor man,” named Lazarus. The story shows both men after death, the rich man in torment, and Lazarus enjoying the comfort that he was deprived of during his earthly life.

It’s important to understand that this teaching does not imply that having wealth leads to eternal punishment. Rather, we look at how the rich man USED his wealth and see there the cause of the problem. As Jesus says, this man “dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.” Clearly, he had abundant wealth and focused it all upon serving himself. To further the accusation against him, all the while “lying at his door was a poor man … who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” But the rich man paid Lazarus no heed, and THIS is why he now suffers. Because he would not deign to “suffer” at all during his life by sharing his linen clothing or feeding his poor neighbor covered with sores.

This selfishness became the rich man’s SELF-condemnation. He put himself in torment because he blatantly disobeyed God’s law to love his neighbor. This challenging parable urges us to examine our own behavior and ask how WE use our wealth–whatever size our bank account may be. Are we willing to assist our neighbors in need? Or do we walk by the poor, excusing our own comfort? Let us heed Christ’s warning today that such earthly comforts are, in the long run, short-lived.