26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C
“Child, remember that during your lifetime, you received your good things, and Larazus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.” (Luke 16:25)
A rich man enjoyed his worldly comforts, while at the same time a sick beggar, Lazarus, lay at his gate. After death, Lazarus is “carried away by the angels.” The rich man goes to the netherworld, but has the audacity to ask for Lazarus to tend to his suffering, even though he never did the same for Lazarus in life.
Though the rich man is suffering in the netherworld, he does not ask for Lazarus to be sent to comfort him from a place of humility, as Lazarus might have asked for a scrap of food in life. Rather, he continues to view Lazarus as someone who exists to serve him. Abraham rebukes him, saying that now Lazarus “is comforted here, and you are in agony.”
Comfort is a word that can have two meanings. When I pass by the homeless without offering assistance, often my excuses revolve around my own comfort. I do not give food or money or even time because I believe I do not have much to spare. But I still have more than the man at the side of the road, who is there day after day.
For those who do suffer, they will receive comfort of a different kind. Here on earth, they may not have worldly comforts, but they have the comfort of drawing closer to Jesus in suffering. In Heaven, they will be comforted eternally.
The parable ends with a warning. When the rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to tell his five brothers to repent, Abraham replies, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” This is not about those who do not believe in the resurrection. It is about anyone who pushes aside what is uncomfortable in order to live an easy life.
Instead, we are asked to care for the poor and downtrodden. For the Lord will say, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” While on earth we have endless opportunities to extend a helping hand, so we must be prepared to do what we can while we can.