“Virtue Rather Than Wealth”

The passage about Lazarus and the rich man is very familiar to us. (Luke 16:19-31) Over the years this parable has been “mined” by countless theologians; artists have produced literature and poetry and music referencing Lazarus and the rich man Dives. Some say it’s not a parable, but that Lazarus was an actual person. I even heard it said there was a connection between the poor man Lazarus and the Lord’s friend Lazarus from Bethany who Jesus raised from the dead. Hmmmmmm, this is getting pretty mysterious. 

Let me add my two cents to the rich discussion of this passage. I was struck by the familiar language used by Dives (the rich man) and Abraham. It’s like they were old friends having a conversation over a glass of wine. Dives calls out to “Father Abraham… saying I beg you father, and oh no father Abraham… have pity on me.” It’s like they know each other. Abraham refers to Dives as  “my child”. There’s familiarity and even tenderness in the conversation. What does this mean?

I’m also struck by Dives showing love and concern for his brothers who have yet to die, but are probably going to end up in the “netherworld”. He’s trying to help them as opposed to just thinking of himself and his suffering. There was some good in Dives. What does this mean for us? 

I guess the more obvious lesson is that our status on earth does not equate to our status after death. We can be a big shot on earth ..… rich, famous, healthy, beautiful, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to how we will be after death.  St. John Chrysostom comments on this passage saying, “let us call fortunate not the wealthy, but the virtuous; let us call miserable not the poor, but the wicked…. let us not regard what is present, but consider what is to come.” (St. John Chrysostom, “On Wealth & Poverty”, Magnificat 3-9-23) 

So, what do you think about all of this? I guess one obvious take away is that we should seek to be virtuous rather than wealthy and to look to eternal life which has no end rather than this life which is over in a flash, like the proverbial flowers in the field. May our virtue in this season of Lent grow as we “pray, fast, and give alms”. May it grow beyond a 40 day exercise, and become an  ongoing part of who we truly are.  As we pray, fast, and love (give alms) may virtues of humility and gratitude and patience and chastity and diligence and faith, hope, and love grow more and more in us. 

May we one day meet father Abraham on the right side of the “great chasm” and enjoy life eternal with the Lord and the saints and the virtuous Lazarus. And that would be very good news.

One thought on ““Virtue Rather Than Wealth”

  1. As we meet each person, the Holy Spirit reveals the virtue in them. May their virtue strike us first rather than the externals🙏


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