There was a certain man who was always dressed to the nines, clothed in purple and fine linen.  He wasted his days and nights consuming – eating, shopping, taking his ease.  

There was also a certain man named Lazarus, which means “God is my help.”  He was covered in sores, and had been dumped at the gate of the rich man.  He lived his whole life trying to get the scraps of food that fell off the rich man’s table.  Stray dogs came around regularly to lick his sores. 

It came to pass that the poor man died, and he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.

Soon after, the rich man also died – and he was carried to the depths of Sheol.  In the midst of torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham, far in the distance, and Lazarus there at his bosom.

The rich man cried out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me!  Send Lazarus over so that he might dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in these flames.”

Abraham answered, “Child, remember that in your lifetime you received many good things, while Lazarus received many evil things.  It’s not like that anymore.  Now, Lazarus is comforted, and you are tormented.  Besides, between us and you there is a great chasm that prevents passing from here to there, from there to here.”

With desperation in his heart, the rich man said, “Well then, send Lazarus to my old house where I have five brothers.  Make Lazarus testify to them, so that they won’t have to come to this place of torment.”

Abraham replied, “They have Moses and all the prophets; if they have ears to hear, let them listen.”

The rich man protested, “But I know them – they won’t listen!  But Father, if someone came back from the dead and testified to them, I know they would repent!”

Abraham stood firm.  “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets," he said, "neither will they be persuaded by one who rises from the dead.”

+ Luke 16:19-31


Loving God, thank you for this hard yet tender passage.  If we are rich, forgive us.  If we are poor, comfort us.  Open our eyes and ears to the cries of your prophets and your people.  Open our hearts so that we might find, listen, and be persuaded by the one who rose from the dead in order to breathe life and love into everyone and everything.  Even us, even now.  Amen.


Thanks to Jim Fischer for this heart-opening shot.