Eternal Life

Scripture Reading

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.'”
(Luke 16:19-31)

Scripture Study

16:19–31 The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus depicts the lot of the wealthy and the poor, first in this life and then in the next. For all his worldly comforts, the rich man’s callousness toward the poor plunged him into ruin (16:23). Lazarus, despite his earthly hardships, is escorted to Abraham’s side (16:22). A similar reversal of fortunes underlies the Beatitudes and Woes in 6:20–26 (Mt 25:31–46) (CCC 2463, 2831).

16:19 There was a … man: The same opening line is used in the two preceding parables (15:11; 16:1) and may suggest this story is also a parable. On the other hand, the poor man is personally identified in 16:20 (“Lazarus”), a feature that is uncharacteristic of parables. purple and fine linen: Expensive apparel often associated with royalty (Judg 8:26; Esther 8:15).

16:22 Abraham’s bosom: i.e., in the lap or presence of Abraham, the forefather of Israel (3:8; Is 51:2). It refers to a temporary realm within Hades where the righteous souls of the Old Covenant era waited patiently for Christ to open the gates of heaven (Eph 4:8–10).

16:23 Hades: The netherworld or realm of the dead. It refers to a waiting place where the deceased souls of the wicked are detained until the Last Judgment (Rev 20:13). Here it stands opposite Abraham’s presence and is a place where sinners languish in the grip of torment (Lk 16:24; Mt 11:23). It is separated from the abode of the righteous by a permanent, unbridgeable gulf that permits no traffic to pass between them (Lk 16:26) (CCC 633, 1021).

16:28 he may warn them: The first and only hint of the rich man’s concern for others. His request for the resurrection of Lazarus is nevertheless denied, since the Scriptures already give sufficient warnings to prevent his brothers from neglecting the poor (Lev 23:22; Deut 15:9; Is 10:1–2; Amos 2:6–7). Others suggest the rich man is still being selfish, for he realizes that the damnation of his entire family would only increase his misery.

16:31 Moses and the prophets: The entire OT (24:27). rise from the dead: Not even miracles will benefit those indifferent to the Scriptures.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel focuses on the enduring existence of those who have gone before us into death. To say that we are nothing but “bodies” which flourish briefly and then fade away is to miss this dimension of our existence. Though we are tempted to see death as the end, something in us rebels against this idea.

This is why Jesus speaks so readily of eternal life. As you know, there was a great debate in Jesus’ time within Judaism in regard to question of resurrection. Many, including the Sadducees, denied the idea of life after death; but others, including the Pharisees, affirmed it. Jesus clearly sides with those who affirm it, and his own resurrection from the dead affirmed this belief as emphatically as possible.

The Gospel has an enormously important practical consequence: we are related still to those who have gone before us. They are, in a very real sense, gone. But they have not disappeared. They are connected to God and therefore to everything that God loves. They are not so much somewhere else as somehow else and thus they can relate to us in perhaps very intimate ways.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.