September 25, 2022
Luke 16: 19-31
Jesus offers for our reflection today a story in which he challenges the Pharisees to live the transformative value of hospitality. Jesus juxtaposes Abraham’s gift of a hospitable nature with the rich man’s lack of hospitality. In Genesis 38, Abraham welcomes strangers to his home and provides them with what they need for their life’s journey. Day after day Abraham displayed this gift of hospitality.
The rich man behaves in the exact opposite way. He could have helped the poor person at his door but chose not to day after day.. In the midst of the difficult imagery of dogs licking the sores of a poor man sprawled across the rich man’s doorstep, and the possibility of eating some scraps of food meant for the dogs, there is a call to act on behalf of this poor person. The call is to make whole and heal and to recognize the sanctity of this individual. In this case the rich man chose the route of what St. John Chrysostom calls “inhospitality.”
The above scene repeats itself daily in our lives. Sometimes, we see it first hand as we travel through our neighborhoods, our barrios, and our villages and we witness it on our own doorsteps, poor people existing in conditions of squalor on our city streets and a stones’ throw away from major hospitals and other types of health care services. Other times, this inhospitality is reflected on our television screens that show poor people on the doorsteps of the entire, supposedly civilized world. A last doorstep that we can consider is the poor Earth itself with all creation the victim looking for healing hospitality from all its inhabitants.
Jesus continues his story with Lazarus dying and finding solace in the bosom of Abraham and the rich man sent to a place of torment and plagued by thirst. All the rich man desires are a drop of water for his tongue to quench his thirst and protection for his family from ending up as he has in a fire pit . If only Abraham would send someone from the dead to tell them not to act as he did and to change their way of being and become hospitable to those who ask for help. The last lines are a particular challenge to the Pharisees. “Abraham said, they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”
Who are we listening to these days?
Luke 16: 19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'”
The Gospel of the Lord
Meet Sister Patricia Butler, SNDdeN