The gospel reading of the week said, “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 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 the 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 the torment in these flames (Luke 16:19-31).”
Compare the rich man to Lazarus, and you see that the rich man’s name was not mentioned but throughout the gospel Lazarus’s name was mentioned throughout the reading. It shows that Jesus felt pity for Lazarus as he was lying at the door of the rich man’s house; yet the rich man did not help the poor man at all.
We often take for granted the things that we have such as the place where we call home, the food on our tables and the clothes that we wear. But there are others out there who do not have these basic necessities. I have seen people who have no homes or have very little with them and also animals that do not have a home but live on the streets. All of them face danger and uncertainty from re-development, the law and people who are intent on making their lives worse. It is a hard life and a life that most would not want.
However, we should not wait for death as it might be too late to make amendments; Jesus has already given us the time we have in our living hours to reflect and help this group of people. It is not just about helping our own selves and being contented with that.
“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, “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 (Luke 16:19-31).”
It is sad to see the rich man regretting and begging Abraham to help him, even though the time has passed. Although a great chasm has been established to separate the good and the bad in the afterlife, we can still close the gap while on our earthly life. Closing the gap is noticing the unfortunate and those struggling around us, so are we moved to not only feel sorry for them but to help them in our own capacity?
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. The Abraham said, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead (Luke 16:19-31).”
We should focus on repenting from our sins while we still have the time and not wait until we fall into the rich man’s predicament where he is helpless and not even his material wealth can buy him more time. In the end, roles are reversed and we see the rich man becoming a beggar in begging Abraham for help and we see Lazarus rejoicing in the eternal peace and comfort of heaven.
The meaning behind Lazarus’ name is interesting as well as it means God is my help. Despite all of his struggles and misfortunes, Lazarus never loses hope in the lasting treasure that is heaven and in God. For that, Lazarus found the definition of happiness which is with God and through God.
It is more important for everyone to help each other than being just contented with our own well-being. It would be nice if we can help one another attain that goal of the eternal treasure which is heaven. So in death, we will proceed to the Father’s house together and not alone.
I would like to end this sharing with this praise and worship song called, “Street of Mercy” by Hillsong as the lyrics touch me, and no matter how sinful we are, God always calls us back home into his embrace, provided we start now.
“Tired of endless walking
Not knowing which way to go
I collapsed on a street called mercy
I was found in You
Throwing Your arms around me
You held me like I was Yours
Like You’d been there the whole time waiting
I was found in You
Wrapped up in scarlet kindness
You welcomed this sinner home
Now I breathe in the air of heaven
All I want is You
Keep me within Your shadow
Lord tether my heart to Yours
I want nothing without Your presence
All I want is You
You are all I want
You are all I need
Every breath I take
Is a breath to say
I am Yours now forever”
May we continue to hope in God and that his mercy will help us and not disappoint us! God Bless!
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong