The true rich man

26th Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year C

At first glance, this week’s Gospel passage can perhaps come across as being a critique of wealth and a praise of poverty. To see it in this way, however, would be to radically simplify what Jesus is truly meaning. What exactly is being implied by this parable? We find Jesus describing a wealthy man descending into the depths of hell and a poor man named Lazarus being exalted in Heaven with Abraham. One naturally comes to ask: is wealth sinful? 

The answer is no. Wealth and riches are not sinful in themselves. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the fullness of life through riches – in fact, as we see in Job’s account, wealth can be regarded as a gift from God. If this is so, why does Jesus look down upon the ‘wealthy man’? 

This is because of the wealthy man’s attitude towards others. If we reflect closely, we discover that, in this parable, the wealthy man has a very problematic attitude – he is selfish and egoistic. The wealthy man, even though he has plenty, continuously violates the principle of charity – which is to love others as we love ourselves. All throughout, God kept inviting the rich man to love. Indeed, although God gave the rich man the freedom to choose, He sent Lazarus behind the rich man’s door. Lazarus was precisely an invitation sent by God – an invitation to love! God sends these invitations in our lives too – even if often we may not realise. Sometimes we are too alienated to be aware that someone needs us, or that we can actually contribute. Indeed, to love others can take a lot of time and effort too – it requires us to stop and ask – what can I do to help this person? Who can I help? Am I loving enough? 

We too, like Lazarus, are left free. God does not force us to love. But God is also just. In the end, the rich man – because he refused to love – was rejected by the Kingdom of love. And here, one cannot help but ask, was he really so rich, after all?

Ultimately, this week, Jesus reminds us where real ‘wealth’ lies. God does not abhor comfort or money – but he does abhor selfishness. The moment anything begins to stand in the way between us and charity, between us and our love for others, is the moment we turn ourselves away from God – our truest Self. Let us therefore take a moment to ask ourselves and reflect – there are different ways to love – but how are we expressing our love? What about those closest to us, are we loving them in a selfless way? Are we forgiving? Are we extending our patience, our time? 

And amidst all this, let us joyfully keep in mind that, while God will keep inviting us to love, whenever we feel unable to love, our Lord will always be there to help us, to love us and to, with much patience, teach us what love really is:poverty is not more praiseworthy the greater it is: for poverty is not good in itself, but only inasmuch as it removes from a man’s path the obstacles of his freely applying himself to spiritual things: this is a general principle with respect to all creatures: they are good only in so far as they lead to virtue, not in themselves – Jacques Maritain

A reading from the Gospel of Luke (Lk 16:19-31)

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.”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. How do you look at God? Did any of these parables teach you something new about God’s character?
  3. Lazarus was an invitation to love which the rich man ignored, ask yourself: are there any people that perhaps God is bringing into my life in order to precisely help me grow more in love? In the end, every person can help us do this, however, there may be some people that we are ignoring, maybe we are so used to ignoring them that it has become a normal thing now – these persons can vary from strangers to family members and friends.
  4. How much do I share my wealth with others? One need not necessarily give money, however, with regards to my relationship with money, or with the wealth I have – does this sometimes come in the way between me and charity? Am I being charitable in the way Jesus and the Saints were?
  5. Together with your family find the right time to read this Gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare;
    i. The Bible reading from St Luke (LK 16:19-31)
    ii. A candle
    iii. Cover the table with a green cloth
    v. A computer/laptop with the readings and clips
  6. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested).
  7. Feel free to adapt to your situation
  8. Be creative 😊 

What does it mean for us to “love” each other? What do we have to do to love? In this week’s Gospel, Jesus explains this to us – he explains what it means for us to love each other and he also explains to us what God thinks about those who do not love

  • Loving each other isn’t always easy – sometimes there are things which come in the way and distract us from truly loving.
  • Whiteboard marker
  • Whiteboard

In this weeks’ Gospel, Jesus speaks to us about two very different persons. He speaks to us about a rich man and about a poor man named Lazarus. Jesus tells us that, every day, Lazarus would go to the gate of the rich man in the hope of receiving some leftover food from his table. Lazarus was always very hungry and no one ever helped him. So, Lazarus hoped that the rich man would have mercy on him. But the rich man never helped Lazarus as he never offered food or love to him. One day, the poor man died and the angels took him to Father Abraham’s side. After a few days, the Rich man also died, but he went to hell. He was in great pain. When he was in hell, the rich man saw Lazarus with Abraham in heaven.

The rich man requested Abraham to help him, but Abraham told the Rich man that he lived his whole life happily and he never helped Lazarus. Abraham said: “now you will suffer and Lazarus will live peacefully in the afterlife”. Here, the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus home and warn his other five brothers so that they would not face the torture of hell. He asked Abraham to let his brothers know about the importance of love. However, his requests were refused by Abraham.

After narrating the above, engage in the following activity. 

Activity: Trading Places.

In this week’s parable we see how the rich man and Lazarus “traded places”. Divide the class into two teams. Have one member of each team answer a review question (see the questions below). If both teams get their question right, they both stay. If they both get it wrong, they both stay. But if one gets it right and the other wrong, they trade places.

True or False

The rich man was nice to Lazarus when they were alive. F

The rich man was worried about his brothers. T

The rich man’s brothers did not know about God. F

The rich man’s importance on earth made him important after death. F

Lazarus suffered on earth because he was a sinner. FConclude by observing that the message that Jesus is trying to tell us is that the most important thing in life is to love. What we have and how much we have, do not matter that much when compared to the dignity and the value that each person has. Every person has value, even if, in this world, they might have had nothing (like Lazarus) – God loved Lazarus even though Lazarus was poor and dirty. Our value is intrinsic to us. God loves us all, always!

Sign of the Cross.

Dear Father in Heaven, help us to remember what Jesus taught us about honesty. Please help us to be honest and truthful in everything we do and say, no mater how big or small. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

In today’s Gospel we will listen to Jesus exploring the importance of loving each other and the consequences which follow when we don’t.

  • Loving each other is not always easy; it requires us to make sacrifices, to share, and to also give our time. 
  • Whiteboard/Screen
  • Whiteboard marker 

Ask: do you use an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning? Perhaps for school? A lot of alarm clocks have a button on them called a ‘snooze button’ (show the snooze button). When your alarm goes off, you can hit this button and go back to sleep. In about 10 minutes, the alarm will ring again. You can just keep on hitting the snooze button and go right on sleeping.

Perhaps it is nice to get that extra sleep, but there are two big problems with snooze buttons. The first is that if you keep on hitting the snooze button, you may be late or miss out on something completely. The second problem is that if you keep hitting the snooze button, you may get so used to the sound of the alarm that you don’t even hear it at all and you will sleep right through the alarm!

Did you know that God sometimes uses a “wake up” alarm in our lives too? For example, he speaks to our heart and says, “it is time to wake up and follow Me”. Some people hit the snooze button and say, “not now Lord, call me again — a little bit later”. Some people hit that “snooze button” so many times that they get to where they don’t even hear God’s voice anymore! When they finally wake up, they find out that it is too late. That is what happened in our Bible story this week.

Jesus tells us a story about a rich man who wore the finest clothes and lived in luxury. A beggar named Lazarus would lay outside the rich man’s gate. Lazarus was hungry and his body was covered with wounds. He was hoping that the rich man would have pity on him and that he might be able to satisfy his hunger with the leftovers from the rich man’s table. But every day the rich man passed by Lazarus without even giving him a thought. I imagine that he passed by Lazarus so many times that he eventually got to the point that he didn’t see Lazarus at all.

The Bible says that Lazarus died and went to heaven. The rich man also died, but he went to hell. In hell, he looked up and saw Lazarus in heaven with Abraham. Hell wasn’t a nice place. So here, the rich man asks Abraham to let Lazarus dip his finger in water and come and touch it to his burning tongue, but Abraham says, “No”. This means that the rich man was not able to find relief from his pain, because it was too late. Abraham reminds the rich man how he had enjoyed so many good things on earth while Lazarus had nothing. The rich man enjoyed life but he never shared it. He therefore has to pay the consequence of not loving others.

God is still sending “wake up” calls to people today. God still calls us all, at each moment, to love each other. Let us pray, therefore, that they will listen to His voice and follow Him before it is too late. Let us ask ourselves: are we listening to God’s voice in our lives? Provide a few minutes for reflection.

Sign of the cross.

“later, Lord.” Instead, help us rise up and follow your son, Jesus!


How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.