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. Luke 16:22–23
If you had to choose, what would you prefer? To be rich and dine sumptuously every day, clothed in purple garments, having everything you could ever want in this world? Or to be a poor beggar, covered with sores, living in a doorway, feeling the pains of hunger? It’s an easy question to answer on the surface. The rich and comfortable life is more attractive at first thought. But the question should not be considered only on the surface, we must look deeper and consider the full contrast of these two people and the effects that their inner lives have on their eternal souls.
As for the poor man, when he died “he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.” As for the rich man, the Scripture states that he “died and was buried” and went to the “netherworld, where he was in torment.” Ouch! Now who would you prefer to be like?
Though it may be desirable to be rich in this life AND the next, that’s not the point of Jesus’ story. The point of His story is simple in that while on this Earth we must repent, turn from sin, listen to the words of Scripture, believe and keep our eyes on our true goal of the riches of Heaven.
As for whether you are rich or poor in this life, it really shouldn’t matter. Though that’s a hard conviction to arrive at, interiorly, it must be our goal. Heaven, and the riches that await, must be our focus. And we prepare for Heaven by hearing the Word of God and responding with the utmost generosity.
The rich man could have responded in this life by seeing the dignity and value of the poor man lying in his doorway, and reaching out in love and mercy. But he didn’t. He was too focused on himself.
Reflect, today, upon the stark contrast between these two men, and especially the eternity that awaited each of them. If you see any of the sinful tendencies of this rich man in your own life, then repent of these sins and repent today. See the dignity and value in each person you encounter. And if you tend to be more focused upon your own self, consumed with selfish pleasure and excess, seek to embrace true poverty of spirit, striving to be attached only to God and the abundant blessings that come with a full embrace of all that He has revealed to us.
Lord, please free me from my selfishness. Help me, instead, to remain focused upon the dignity of all people and to pour myself out in their service. May I discover in the poor, the broken and the humble, an image of You. And as I discover Your presence in their lives, may I love You, in them, seeking to be an instrument of Your mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.