Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 25, 2016
Today’s Gospel is the well-known parable of the rich man and Lazarus. You know the story: The poor Lazarus is ignored at the rich man’s gate, but after death their status is reversed. Lazarus is secure in “Abraham’s bosom” while the rich man is in torment. Between the two, Abraham says, there’s a “great chasm,” so that those on either side can never come close to each other, never again share a cooling drink of water to ease the torment.
The figure of Abraham in this story has always been a side detail for me. But Scripture scholar Barbara Reid points out that Abraham is present in the story as a wealthy man who knew how to use his riches for good. Abraham’s hospitality is part of his story in Genesis.
Here in Luke’s Gospel, the figure of Abraham helps us understand how it’s not riches in themselves that are bad; it’s how they’re used. Do we allow wealth to blind us to the needs of those right on our doorstep? The rich man ignored Lazarus and now in death, they’re permanently apart: the chance to meet lost forever. Those who hear this Sunday’s Gospel at Eucharist, and who have more than enough of worldly riches still have a chance to use them for good. May the Gospel challenge touch their hearts.