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The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Luke 16 : 19-31

One of the problems the world has not been able to solve is the uneven distribution of wealth and resources. Part of the difficulty is that the idea of a ‘good’ job is based on the level of pay. So people are attracted by the high salaries rather than by the nature of the work. A better job equals more money!

In the pandemic it was clearly shown that some of the most important jobs – working in care homes, home care, cleaners in hospitals and working in our streets – were amongst the most poorly paid.

When I worked for the Church of Scotland Overseas Council we were paid according to our need. There was a basic salary for a single person. Married couples were paid more and there were allowances for each child. It did not matter what job you did or what qualifications you had gained.

What was the sin of the Rich Man? It wasn’t that he was deliberately cruel or unkind to Lazarus. He accepted him as part of the landscape. It was natural and inevitable that Lazarus should lie in pain and hunger while he wallowed in luxury. It was not what he did that got the Rich Man into trouble. It was what he did not do – NOTHING!

Jesus’ command to ‘’Love our Neighbour” includes what we do with our money and how we spend our time.

Prayer: Living God, you have placed us in one of the richest countries in the world. Show us how we can work for a fairer society in our country and in the world.

Action: Decide how you can act in response to Jesus’ Prayer – “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.

This Thought was written by Ian Moir