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Date:	3/3/99 5:01:28 AM Pacific Standard Time
From:	mtuazon@ix.netcom.com (Manuel Tuazon)
Reply-to:	early-word-request@cin.org
To:	early-word@cin.org

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To the Greater Glory of God)

For: Thursday, March 4, 1999

2nd Week of Lent

Optional Memorial: St. Casimir

From: Luke 16:19-31

Lazarus and the Rich Man
(Jesus told them this parable:) [19] "There was a rich man, who was
clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every
day.  [20] And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores,
[21] who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table;
moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  [22] The poor man died
and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom.  The rich man also
died and was buried; [23] and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up
his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom.  [24] And
he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to
dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in
anguish in this flame.'  [25] But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you
in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner
evil things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
[26] And beside in 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.'  [27] And he said, `Then I
beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, [28] for I have five
brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place
of torment.'  [29] But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets;
let them hear them.'  [30] And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if
some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'  [31] He said
to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they
be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'" 


19-31. This parable disposes of two errors--that of those who denied
the survival of the soul after death and, therefore, retribution in the
next life; and that of those who interpreted material prosperity in
this life as a reward for moral rectitude, and adversity as
punishment.  This parable shows that, immediately after death, the soul
is judged by God for all its acts--the "particular judgment"--and is
rewarded or punished; and that divine revelation is by itself
sufficient for men to be able to believe in the next life.

In another area, the parable teaches the innate dignity of every human
person, independently of his social, financial, cultural or religious
position.  And respect for this dignity implies that we must help those
who are experiencing any material or spiritual need: "Wishing to come
down to topics that are practical and of some urgency, the Council lays
stress on respect for the human person: everyone should look upon his
neighbor (without any exception) as another self, bearing in mind above
all his life and the means necessary for living it in a dignified way
lest he follow the example of the rich man who ignored Lazarus, the
poor man" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 27).

Another practical consequence of respect for others is proper
distribution of material resources and protection of human life, even
unborn life, as Paul VI pleaded with the General Assembly of the United
Nations: "Respect for life, even with regard to the great problem of
the birth rate, must find here in your assembly its highest affirmation
and its most reasoned defense.  You must strive to multiply bread so
that it suffices for the tables of mankind, and not rather favor an
artificial control of birth, which would be irrational, in order to
diminish the number of guests at the banquet of life" ("Address to the
UN", 4 October 1965).

21. Apparently this reference to the dogs implies not that they
alleviated Lazarus' sufferings but increased them, in contrast with the
rich man's pleasure: to the Jews dogs were unclean and therefore were
not generally used as domestic animals.

22-26. Earthly possession, as also suffering, are ephemeral things:
death marks their end, and also the end of our testing-time, our
capacity to sin or to merit reward for doing good; and immediately
after death we begin to enjoy our reward or to suffer punishment, as
the case may be.  The Magisterium of the Church has defined that the
souls of all who die in the grace of God enter Heaven, immediately
after death or after first undergoing a purging, if that is necessary.
"We believe in eternal life.  We believe that the souls of all those
who die in the grace of Christ--whether they must still make expiation
in the fire of Purgatory, or whether from the moment they leave their
bodies they are received by Jesus into Paradise like the Good Thief--go
to form that people of God which succeeds death, death which will be
totally destroyed on the day of the resurrection when these souls are
reunited with their bodies" (Paul VI, "Creed of the People of God",

The expression of "Abraham's bosom" refers to the place or state "into
which the souls of the just, before the coming of Christ the Lord were
received, and where, without experiencing any sort of pain, but
supported by the blessed hope of redemption, they enjoyed peaceful
repose.  To liberate these holy souls, who, in the bosom of Abraham
were expecting the Savior, Christ the Lord descended into hell" ("St.
Pius V Catechism", I, 6, 3).

22. "Both the rich man and the beggar died and were carried before
Abraham, and there judgment was rendered on their conduct.  And the
Scripture tells us that Lazarus found consolation, but that the rich
man found torment.  Was the rich man condemned because he had riches,
because he abounded in earthly possessions, because he `dressed in
purple and linen and feasted sumptuously every day'?  No, I would say
that it was not for this reason.  The rich man was condemned because he
did not pay attention to the other man, because he failed to take
notice of Lazarus, the person who sat at his door and who longed to eat
the scraps from his table.  Nowhere does Christ condemn the mere
possession of earthly goods as such.  Instead, He pronounces very harsh
words against those who use their possessions in a selfish way, without
paying attention to the needs of others[...]." 

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus must always be present in our
memory; it must form our conscience.  Christ demands openness to our
brothers and sisters in need--openness from the rich, the affluent, the
economically advantaged; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped and
the disadvantaged.  Christ demands an openness that is more than benign
attention, more than token actions or half-hearted efforts that leave
the poor as destitute as before or even more so [...].

"We cannot stand idly by, enjoying our riches and freedom, if, in any
place, the Lazarus of the Twentieth Century stands at our doors.  In
the light of the parable of Christ, riches and freedom mean a special
responsibility.  Riches and freedom create a special obligation.  And
so, in the name of the solidarity that binds us all together in a
common humanity, I again proclaim the dignity of every human person:
the rich man and Lazarus are both human beings, both of them equally
created in the image and likeness of God, both of them equally redeemed
by Christ, at a great price of the `precious blood of Christ' (1 Peter
1:19)" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Homily in Yankee Stadium", 2 October

24-31. The dialogue between the rich man and Abraham is a dramatization
aimed at helping people remember the message of the parable: strictly
speaking, there is no room in Hell for feelings of compassion toward
one's neighbor: in Hell hatred presides.  "When Abraham said to the
rich man `between us and you a great chasm has been fixed...' he showed
that after death and resurrection there will be no scope for any kind
of penance.  The impious will not repent and enter the Kingdom, nor
will the just sin and go down into Hell.  This is the unbridgable
abyss" (Aphraates, "Demonstratio", 20; "De Sustentatione Egenorum",
12).  This helps us to understand what St. John Chrysostom says: "I ask
you and I beseech you and, falling at your feet, I beg you: as long as
we enjoy the brief respite of life, let us repent, let us be converted,
let us become better, so that we will not have to lament uselessly like
that rich man when we die and tears can do us no good.  For even if you
have a father or a son or a friend or anyone else who have influence
with God, no one will be able to set you free, for your own deeds
condemn you" ("Hom. on 1 Cor.").

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries".  Biblical text
taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate.  Commentary
made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of
Navarre, Spain.  Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock,
Co. Dublin, Ireland.  Printed in Hungary.
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