Jeremiah 17: 5-10
Luke 16: 19-31


The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is about how we live our lives on earth and how our life after death will play out.

The rich man was never given a name, but the poor man lying in the doorway was named Lazarus, which means ‘God has helped’. Although Lazarus lived right at the rich man’s doorstep, he paid him no attention and did not even give him the scraps that were left over from his banquets. During his life on earth, Lazarus was left unnoticed by the very person who should have given him all that he needed, especially in his time of desperation. How was someone who was so obviously in need not seen? The rich man was blind to what was right in front of him, despite Lazarus’ abject need. It was the stray dogs that licked Lazarus’ wounds that gave him the only comfort and love.

But the roles were reversed after their deaths. This time, Lazarus was in the long-desired and well-deserved comfort of Abraham’s embrace, and the rich man was in torment, where he did not even have dogs to relieve his pain. The rich man’s appeal to Abraham to get Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his tongue was not granted. Why? Because between those languishing in Hades and those in peace there is a gulf which cannot be breached. Once you are on one side of the gulf, that is it – there is no crossing over.

In his earthly life, the rich man showed no mercy or compassion when he should have. He ignored the suffering of Lazarus. We can all be blind to needs because we are hard-hearted and stubborn. In this time of Lent, let us ask our God of mercy and compassion to open our eyes, hearts and ears to the needs of those that we meet. Let us offer on earth a sip of love to those that crave it, a blessing on those who feel desolate and a sign of comfort for those in distress so that by our small actions the face of God can shine on those who need it most.

Victoria Raw is parishioner of Te Whetu O Te Moana, Star of the Sea Marlborough, NZ and is active in lay ministry.