Today we have the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Now I’m sure that I’ve told you that I’m a BIG fan of the musical Godspell, and so whenever I hear a parable that is in that show that is how I picture the parable being told.I hope you get a chance to read this parable before worship on Sunday morning, but just in case you don’t…….
Here we have a story of a rich man who has all he needs, wealth, all the best clothes and food as well as a large place to live in. At the gate to this fine house lay Lazarus, a poor man with no home, no food, few clothes and covered with sores. There is some doubt that the Rich Man even knew about Lazarus let alone cared about this man at his gate. Both of them die and Lazarus is carried away by the angles to be with Father Abraham and the Rich Man is buried and ends up in Hades.
From his place in Hades the Rich Man asks Father Abraham for help from Lazarus, firstly to give him some cool water and then to warn the rest of his family that they need to be better people so that they would not end up where the Rich Man ends up, in Hades being tortured. According to Father Abraham the stumbling block is the great divide between the Rich Man and Lazarus. Lazarus cannot cross it in order to reach the Rich Man, but nor should he, he is not the Rich Man’s servant.
Now, remember this is a parable, there is meaning here, and probably a meaning that we can miss. For me, it is the divide that catches my attention. The great division between those who are wealthy and have ‘things’ and those who are poor and have not. I do have to say that if you look at all the statistics that determine those who are wealthy and those who are poor, Bruce and I would be considered wealthy – and I’m sure a number of you would be also.
So, what is this parable telling us? For me it reminds me of the divisions there are in life, and the importance of recognising those divisions and trying to something about making them smaller. That Jesus understood, paid attention to and taught about those who were on the outside, the underprivileged, the poor, highlighted these divisions even more so. As we think of what COVID has done to this world I believe that this great chasm has been emphasised. There have been governments that have failed to realise the challenges of everyone being treated equally and with respect. We’ve seen the groups of people in Australia who have been overlooked for assistance such as casual workers, and some areas of industry such as the university sector. We’ve had highlighted the need for better mental health assistance and programs and there are also the results of the Royal Commission into Aged Care. All these things create division amongst us and can separate us into those who have and those who do not.
This parable challenges me to look around. To ‘see’ those who can at times be unseen. To step up and help to close this great chasm as best as I can and encourage you to do likewise.