17TH MARCH 2022
WE ARE THE RICH MAN'S BROTHERS AND SISTERS
The word Gospel means Good News but in today's Gospel passage is there any good news when we hear that after the rich man had been condemned to torment in Hades, his request to have someone sent to his brothers to tell them to turn away from their sins is rejected?
We have not been told whether his request is sincere or not but what if he was serious that he really wanted his brothers to turn away from their sins? He seems to have accepted his fate and he doesn't want his brothers to have the same ending like him.
The rich man first of all wanted to correct his situation by telling Abraham, " Father Abraham! Take pity on me, and send Lazarus to dip his finger in some water and cool my tongue because I am in great pain in this fire. "This requested was rejected. Is this good news?
If we dare to be honest, then this parable is not a comfortable one. This parable, if we dare to be honest, is good news only to Lazarus who was considered to have suffered due to the indifference of the rich man. It is also good news to those who identify with Lazarus.
Should this Gospel reading work on the premise that inclusion and exclusion to be in Abraham's bosom is entirely dependent on our actions and condition in our earthly lives? If we go with this idea, what room is left for grace and faith? Is this good news?
How would you have wanted this parable to end bearing in mind that most of us like identifying with Lazarus? We tend to identity with Lazarus based on the words of Abraham that say ," Remember, my son, that in your life time you were given all the good things while Lazarus got all the bad things but now he is enjoying himself here while you are in pain."
From another angle it is as if this parable is inviting us to judge the rich may and scoff at him and to disdain wealth, and this judging and scoffing and disdaining becomes louder and bigger when despite the effort of the rich man to plead for himself and for his brothers,he is told that ," 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."
The rich man's plea was an effort in futility and the moment the great chasm had been fixed, is the moment we should stop judging, scoffing and disdaining because did we really expect this parable to end this way? Did the rich man expect it to end this way?
We may have identified with Lazarus but what if we too find ourselves on the other side of the great chasm that had been fixed such that we cannot go to where Lazarus is?
This parable is not meant to point out who will be in or out in God's kingdom based on what one has or does not have but it moves us or invites us to look at the people around us at this moment from the perspective of God's peculiar, surprising and jarring logic.
This parable gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves if we must continue acting like the rich man. It gives us the opportunity to imagine that we are the rich man's brothers and sisters and do what he never did.