This week I have been reading a series of sermons by John Chrysostom (as you do) “On Wealth and Poverty”. One of the key biblical passages he addresses is the parable often titled “Divers & Lazarus” Luke 16:19 – 31. As I read I was struck with the amazing similarities between this parable of Jesus and our current time. Below is my humble attempt at a “Parallel Parable”
There was a very rich man who owned plush resorts and lived in lavish luxury. At his border lay an hopelessly impoverished Honduran. This man was unable to help himself and was taken advantage of even by those who lived outside the border. He lay inert void of outward dignity unable to help himself. On the very doorstep of a nation of prosperity his life slipped away. This all happened in full view of the rich man who willfully ignored the cause of the poor Honduran while he continued to party with his friends, deliberately not sparing even a crumb for the poor man who dared lie dying on his ‘door step’.
The rich man too died, as do we all. He was buried with suitable pomp but while the poor man had been carried to the very presence of God, the rich man found himself separated from God and in a place devoid of all God’s blessings. He was in utter torment! For the first time in his life he prayed. “God have pity on me. Send that poor Honduran to me, that he might bring a cup of cool water, for I am in agony here.”
God looked on him with a look of love and sadness, “Son, remember that during your life you gladly received good things, while this refugee received bad things, but now he is comforted and you are in agony. And besides in this afterlife there is a great gulf of separation between this man and I and you.” Scripture reminds us “It is appointed unto man, once to die and then the judgement.” The rich man during his life had chosen to live only for himself and his choice continued to be honoured in the hereafter.
The rich man continued, “Then I beg you, father, send this poor refugee to my father’s hose to warn my brothers, so they can avoid my terrible fate.”
“They have the scriptures.” “They have the witness of the Risen Christ” “They have the witness of the Church and its martyrs. If they do not pay attention to these, they will not listen to a poor refugee even if he returns to life.”
Poor folk continue to lie on the doorstep. The rich men continue to ignore or exploit them. Indignantly you point an accusing finger at that Rich man but three fingers aim back at you. Who is the “Rich man”? Could it be you?
We hear or may sing, “Good King Wenceslas” at this time of year and I am reminded of the last lines. “Therefore, Christian men, be sure, Wealth and rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, Shall yourselves find blessing.”
Street Hope Saint John has two seasonal outreach projects: December 21st we will be hosting a “Christmas Dinner Party” for folks in our community and on the 22nd we are putting on a lavish “Bleak Mid-Winter Brrreakfast.” If you’d like to help bless the poor this season we would be grateful for your support.