Luke 16:19-31 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
19 There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen; and feasted sumptuously every day.
20 And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores,
21 Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell.
23 And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom:
24 And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.
25 And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazareth evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented.
26 And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither.
27 And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren,
28 That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments.
29 And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.
31 And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.
A friend of mine who does meditation shared with me an insight into this passage, which I am passing on to you today.
In this season of excessive food and waste, this meditation is timely.
David told me that the only sin which the rich man is recorded by Christ in His story to have committed is not sharing food with Lazarus. Although we may assume this rich man had other sins, the one which damned him to hell, (and notice, we do not know his name, just as we know the names of the saints in heaven, but not the names of those in hell), according to Our Lord, was not sharing food. Any food—but, not even the bones with scraps of meat or the crumbs of bread were given to Lazarus. Indeed, we know that Lazarus was meek and humble in his dire poverty, not giving into envy, anger, or rebellion. Therefore, when he died, because he accepted his lowly condition with grace, he went to heaven—not merely because he was poor. Some poor people are full of anger.
The nameless rich man went to hell, merely for ONE sin—not sharing his food.
Let us think of that this Advent and Christmas time, when food is in abundance. I have for most of my years, not gone to office parties in Advent or earlier Christmas dinners, which break the penitential spirit of Advent. In fact, I am shocked that ALL the parishes in two dioceses with which I am familiar, have the parish Christmas dinners in Advent. This shows a grave lack of sensitivity to the call of penance during Advent. In fact, last year, the priest in my parish spoke against penances in Advent—a sad reminder of the lack of liturgical training for our priests. Reparation and mortification for our sins should be enough to push us toward Advent penances.
The Byzantine Catholics get it right. They fast from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, and dairy products on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sunday is not part of the penitential days.
I know many people who give up alcohol for Advent, and candy. We ate no sweets in Advent when I was growing up.
If the rich man could be sent to hell for one sin of greed, or even carelessness for the plight of the poor, how much more should we be vigilant.
Do you want to be a nameless soul (and later, body) in hell, or a saint with a glorious name?
JMJ, pray for us!
God is good,