Memory of the Church

Share On


Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Luke 16,19-31

'There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there used to lie a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with what fell from the rich man's table. Even dogs came and licked his sores. Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham's embrace. The rich man also died and was buried. 'In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his embrace. So he cried out, "Father Abraham, pity 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." Abraham said, "My son, remember that during your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to prevent those who want to cross from our side to yours or from your side to ours." 'So he said, "Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father's house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too." Abraham said, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them." The rich man replied, "Ah no, father Abraham, but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent." Then Abraham said to him, "If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead."

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The passage about the poor Lazarus is one of the best known in the Gospel. It continues to describe one of the most common situations in the life of society even today. The rich man who feasts sumptuously is not relegated to the past, and Lazarus too has not disappeared. Two people, two situations. Below there is Lazarus, with his eyes fixed on the rich man, waiting for some crumbs to fall from the table and reach him. Above there is the rich man, who, on the other hand, continues to feast as if Lazarus does not exist; he does not even see him. For the Lord, and thus for his disciples, the distance between the rich man and Lazarus is an unacceptable scandal and can find no justification. But that great abyss signals the very sad fate which the rich banqueter will meet. He becomes aware of it too late, when it is impossible to overcome it. And yet, a little care would have been enough during his life. But the reversal is complete. At this point the rich man asks for someone to warn his brothers. But the rich man does not know that in order to bridge the gap there is no need for great efforts, it is enough to open the Scriptures (Moses and the Prophets). And if he had done so, he would have opened the eyes of his body as well as the eyes of his heart. That is what is asked of us particularly during this time of Lent. The Word of God touches our hearts and impels them to mercy towards the many Lazarus of our cities. Let us avoid that the gulf between the poor and the rich continues to deepen and widen. If we listen to the Word of God and not to our egocentricities, we will hear the cry of the poor, compassion for them will grow, and we will see their need for help. And we will offer them more than crumbs. We will be able to offer them also love, friendship, and companionship. And, in the way of the Gospel, we will understand that the poor live not only on bread but also on love. Whoever had this experience was able to understand the meaning of Jesus' words reported by the Apostle Paul: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).