Having excessive, material wealth sure seems nice, but Jesus’ message in today’s reading definitely shows us that riches are not the source of true peace. Jesus paints the vivid picture of extreme difference in life situation between the rich man and Lazarus (Isn’t it ironic that Jesus shares only the poor man’s name). It is hard to image such contrast existing in two lives lived in such close proximity.
The focus of the story is on the reversal of fortunes that takes place after both men die. The agony of Lazarus’ life on earth is replaced with comfort after death. For the rich man, who once showcased his fortune everyday by the way he dressed and the feasts at his table, torment and want now describe his new way of life.
The rich man obviously knew Lazarus--the poor man, because when he asked Abraham to send him to offer a bit of water, he called Lazarus by name. The rich man could have extended mercy and welcomed Lazarus, a beggar, into his warm home and cared for his physical needs, but he did not. Now, himself in need, the rich man certainly begs for help. However, Abraham makes it clear that the time for change has past.
Everyone has a choice to make. Some people look to have their good pleasure this side of heaven by following their own path and placing confidence in financial security, possessions, whatever they can find happiness in for the moment. In contrast, Jesus says that true good pleasure is only found in following Him. His way includes caring for the needs of others above our own and he reminds us of this over and over again in the Bible.
How are you meeting the needs of others who are poor—poor financially, but also those who are poor in hope? What do you think God is showing you through this passage about your next steps?