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Thursday of the Second Week in Lent. The reading is from Gospel of Luke 16:19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.

And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.

When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’

Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.

Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’

He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’

But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’

He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’

The name Lazarus is of Hebrew origin, meaning “God is my help” and is derived from the Hebrew אלעזר, Elʿāzār (Eleazar) meaning “God has helped”. Since the Middle Ages, the name Lazarus has been been used as a synonym for a leper.

The oldest Greek manuscript of Luke dating from ca. A.D. 175–225 records the name of the rich man as an abbreviated form of “Nineveh,” but there is very little textual support in other manuscripts for this reading.

All men die including the Christians, and all religions teach that when we die and if we have lived a good life, we will go to heaven and if we have lived an evil life, we will go to hell.

This teaching is elucidated in the parable of the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus. In Luke 16:22–23 we read:

When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

Heaven is viewed as being in a state of bliss, while hell is viewed as being in a state of torment.

Again, the above passage illustrates the teachings of Jesus in Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” :

And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:20–21)

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.” (Luke 6:24–25)

At the time of Jesus, the Pharisees considered wealth to be an important part of their life style. Luke 16:14 says: The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. So, Jesus confronts them with the story of Lazarus and the rich man in which the beggar is granted eternal life, and the rich man is condemned to eternal death.

In present days too, the amount of wealth we have is not important, but how we use our wealth is more important.

In this story it wasn’t the wealth that was the problem. It was lack of compassion on the part of the rich man and his refusal to help poor Lazarus.

Jesus concludes the story where Abraham tells the rich man, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

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