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  • Fr. Athanasius Oweis

Lazarus and the Rich Man - 10/31/2021

Homily on October 31st 2021

LUKE 16:19-31

The Lord said, "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazaros, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazaros in his bosom. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazaros to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazaros in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses, and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to them, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

both now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.

Some Christians when they hear this Gospel of Saint Luke they shrug and would say: “I am not rich, I don’t feast sumptuously every day. This gospel does not apply to me!” Some others would say: “I give to the poor, I donate to the Church or to a charity, I am doing my duty, so I am doing well on this aspect, let’s skip to the next requirement of getting to heaven, I checked this one!”

This Gospel is more than financial poverty. All of us are like Lazarus in some aspects of our lives, and as the Rich man in others. If you have been blessed by a family, or by a spouse, and the one sitting next to you in Church, or in office, or a neighbor, that have not been blessed by a family, and you do not make the time to be for them and compensate the lack of family that they have, and be their family for them, then you are the rich man. If you have been blessed by a job, and a person that you know is looking for one and you are not helping them, you are the rich man. If you have been blessed by health, and the person next to you are suffering by the infirmities of their body, and you are not there for them, you are the rich man. Don’t feast sumptuously on your blessings while ignoring the needs of others. Don’t cover your eyes to full blindness with the purple gifts. They are not given to you by God so you can enjoy them by yourself. God has given these to you to be His image on earth, you are supposed to be a miniature-Christ for the many Lazaruses around us who are suffering silently wishing for few crumbs of your blessings… Be for them, don’t give them the crumbs, let them feast with you… If they are suffering in health, work, family, listen to them. You cannot heal them, but you can hear them and feel with them. They need you. The chasm that the rich man saw in Hades between him and Lazarus is a reflection of the chasm that he himself dug on earth with the man who was at his gate. The rich man thought to himself: I am better, I am from a certain class, from a special group, this man is not from my group. We do it everyday to each other… We build chasms between each other everyday… The examples are endless… This chasm is our sinfulness, our blindness to others around us, let us repent and ask God to open our eyes for those who are around us, they might be living under the same roof with us. There is a reason why the Lord Jesus Christ chose dogs in this story. In the Middle eastern culture, it is a strong insult to call a person “a dog”. What Christ is saying here politely is that if we act like the rich man, then even dogs are better than us.

On the other hand, if you are struggling in a certain aspect in your life, This Gospel is a great source of console for you. God will send you a comfort, the comfort from God is better than that of man. “It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man. 9 It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:8-9) You see, Lazarus was sent dogs from God to comfort him. His sores were moistened by the compassion of God’s creation. The rich man chose inanimate objects that has no life to cover his body, but God covers us by the life and love of His creatures even if there was no other person on earth for us. Comfort does not only come after we die in eternal life, comfort will also be sent to us as we need it to help us while we are bleeding from pain.

Finally, it is important to emphasize that the rich man has no name in the story. We know the poor man’s name, but not the rich man’s. He is forgotten. This is why we always pray at the Oblation table and in our personal prayers: “Remember oh Lord your servant “, being forgotten by God is a fearful thing.

The Psalms always mention the word “Remember me”.

Psalm 106: “Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation,”

Psalm 25: “7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Psalm 74: “Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed—"

In the Great Entrance in the Divine Liturgy, the priest prays: All of you, …, may the Lord God remember in His kingdom….

May the Lord our God help us in opening our eyes to the needs of those around us, and remember us in His kingdom now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen

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