“The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.” (Luke 16:22-23)
Jesus tells a story about a rich man and a poor man. Which of these men was rich and which was poor? In a sense, the answer is obvious. The man who ate large meals, wore fine clothes, and lived in a house was the rich man. Lazarus was the poor man. He had no food, no clothes, and no home.
On the other hand, the rich man was not as rich as he first appeared. He owned nothing that lasts. He lost everything the moment he died. In hell he couldn’t even find a drop of water to cool his tongue.
Lazarus appeared poor, but he was actually quite rich. He possessed treasure kept in heaven, an inheritance that is imperishable. He belonged to God’s family. Thus, after Lazarus died, he enjoyed peace and joy in the presence of God. When the Day of Judgment comes, he will be given an immortal body.
If you have trusted your wealth to keep you secure, repent. If you have sought value and happiness in money and possessions, repent. Admit to yourself that money and possessions cannot give you value or lasting happiness. Admit to yourself that wealth cannot save you on the Day of Judgment.
Also rejoice, for you are like Lazarus! In Baptism you were brought into God’s family. Even if you lose all your money, your possessions, your home, your family, and life itself, you are still wealthier than Bill Gates. You have an inheritance, purchased by the blood of Christ! And this inheritance is as imperishable as the body of your risen Savior.
O God, the strength of all who trust in You, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing, grant us Your grace to keep Your commandments that we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.