In the Gospel we hear of a poor, sick man named Lazarus (not the same Lazarus that was raised from the dead) lying across the front gate of a rich man’s home begging for a few crumbs of food. The rich man surrounded and comforted by extreme wealth, remains nameless in the story as he goes about his daily life ignoring the needs of poor Lazarus. In death, the rich man suffers while Lazarus is comforted. Abraham says to the rich man, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.” (Luke 16.25)
St John Chrysostom says, “How then is it possible for the rich man to be saved? By possessing his goods in common with them that are in need, and exterminating out of his soul the desire for more, and in no point going beyond real need.”
It won’t be wealth that brings suffering into our future, but the lack of compassion we have for our brothers and sisters in the world who are suffering. Even in death the rich man expected Lazarus to serve him because he saw himself as superior to Lazarus. In life the rich man expected the dogs to care for Lazarus rather than reaching out to him and treating him as a brother.
Compassion comes at a price….the price of comfort. We can choose to be comfortable with our wealth here on earth or we can use our wealth to comfort the afflicted. It’s our choice, but today God gives us a glimpse of our future to help us make the right decision.