Ep 4: Rich Man & Lazarus

Many of the greatest parables of Jesus come
to us from the Gospel of Luke, we don’t know exactly why but certainly Luke
gives us many of the best known of the Parables. One of those comes in chapter 16 and it’s
often called the Parable of Dives and Lazarus but it’s a bit of a misnomer in fact
because in the parables itself, Lazarus has a name – the poor man at the gate but in fact the rich man
is never given a name. And it’s an interesting question why that
is so – it’s not by accident. So in this parable Jesus is speaking
to the Pharisees, as he often does in fact in recounting
the parables and he’s speaking to the Pharisees whom
Luke describes as ‘lovers of money’. So in a sense the parable is about the love
of money – or the use of money which was an important question for Luke and his community. Which seems to have both rich Christians
and poor Christians and the questions was what is the responsibility
of rich Christians to poor Christians and what are the rights of poor Christians
vis-a-vis rich Christians in this community. But the parables itself is not just about
the use of money, it really is about the meaning of brotherhood
– what it means to be brother. In that sense the parable looks back to the
story of Cain and Abel, in Genesis chapter 4. Which also explores the question of what it
means to be a brother. Now Jesus does this in order to lead us into
a new sense and experience of the Kingdom of God, as an experience of brotherhood. All of us sons of Abraham and sons of the
Father and therefore sisters and brothers
to each other. So at the heart of the parable there is
that exploration of what it really means to be brother
or sister. The parable moves at two levels, first of
all: personal responsibility. What is my responsibility personally?
As brother? As sister? But it moves beyond the personal to explore
the social aspects of the world that is born once
brotherhood becomes a reality. In fact the world that is born according to
Jesus is what he calls the ‘Kingdom of God’. So once again we see how the parable works
as a kind of metaphor to subvert conventional understanding of
the Kingdom of God, in order to bring to birth new and brilliant understandings of what the Kingdom of God
means and how we experience it
as true brotherhood. Fraternity.

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