The readings for the 2nd Week of Lent are mainly about the mercy of God. On Monday we were told in Luke’s Gospel: “Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” (Luke 6: 36)
The man In Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, our reading today, is far from merciful, absorbed as he is in himself and his own good. He’s living in a bubble of luxury, a gated world where he sees nothing else, not the poor man at his door nor his own inevitable death. He sees nothing else but the “good life,” wealth and pleasure.
Scriptures, like Psalm 49, often point out the dangers of riches. “In his riches, man lacks wisdom; he is like the beasts that are destroyed.” The parable is obviously an example for the rich, but it’s also a warning for others besides.
Our first reading from Jeremiah warns all of us about trusting in human success and achievements. Even a small store of talents and gifts can make us as shortsighted as a great store of riches. The parable’s warning goes beyond the obviously rich. Small things we treasure, little things we make everything, can make us blind to the poor at our gate.
We don’t have to be a super billionaire to lack wisdom. “All you peoples, give heed, all who dwell in the world, men both low and high, rich and poor alike.” (Psalm 49)
Jesus’ parable also points to the treasure we should keep in mind. In a turn of circumstances, the poor like Lazarus will be rewarded in the next life and the merciful who cared for them will be in their company. Jesus gives us a sign in his resurrection that those who have been rejected will find acceptance in the heavenly kingdom.
A life beyond this is our destiny and our treasure. What we do and how we live here counts there. May God give us grace to believe in it.
Lord, I see only so far, I live for the day
my vision is all on what’s before me,
Give me eyes to see Lazarus, wherever he may be,
to see your kingdom in those in need.