What we can learn from Lazarus and the rich man

| Deacon Mitchell Bechtold | September 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
Blessed Mother Teresa is pictured comforting an ailing man in this undated file photo.  CNS photo courtesy Catholic Press Photo

Blessed Mother Teresa is pictured comforting an ailing man in this undated file photo. CNS photo courtesy Catholic Press Photo

God is giving us a chance to love, without exception, each day of our lives. He not only gives us the time but the opportunity to do so. Yet, if your experience has been anything like mine, attitudes and habits can stand in the way of loving as we should.

So, what are we to do? Live our lives “business as usual”? Surely not. Love demands more, the Lord deserves more, and our world needs more.

This Sunday we hear the Gospel story of “Lazarus and the Rich Man.” We hear of Lazarus who, afflicted in his lifetime with bodily sores and material poverty, is carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham, where he will be eternally consoled.

We also hear of the rich man who, blessed in his lifetime with bodily health and material wealth, is consigned to the netherworld, where he will be eternally tormented. He who was helpless is now helped, and he who was helped is now helpless.

There is a pity which ought to well up in each of our hearts for both Lazarus and the rich man: Lazarus in his suffering and the rich man in his. Yet, it is Lazarus who is our model. For whether rich or poor, healthy or ill, Lazarus shows us that our response in life must be one of faith, and the greatest commandment of our faith is this: Love!

Threefold approach

Jesus tells his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).   Aiding us in our response of faith, I propose a threefold criterion to guide us, namely: Know the good, do the good and do the good for the right reasons.

  • Know the good  
    Continued growth in our knowledge of the faith is not only our privilege, it is our duty as baptized Christians. The rich man seems to have known it was his duty to heed the commandments of God, for when he begs of Abraham that he might return to the house of his father and his brothers to warn them, Abraham reminds him that they had Moses and the prophets, just as the rich man did.
  • Do the good  
    Faith is a lived reality, and love will always choose what is truly good for another person. In word and deed, thought and sentiment, faith is to pervade our whole life, to the Glory of God in Heaven. The rich man might have done the good, if indeed he had living faith in the commandments of God.
  • The right reasons
    God has commanded us and we believe. He does not give us commands to punish us, but to free us! The rich man never got to this criterion, for though he knew the good in his lifetime, he did not do it. And this last point is most crucial because we all know that the right things can be done for the wrong reasons.

Founded on a personal relationship with Christ, let us make our faith known! In word and deed we must aid our brothers and sisters who are most in need.  Let us be people of faith. Let us be men and women of love.

Deacon Bechtold is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of St. Cloud. His teaching parish is the “Bowlus Cluster,” comprising St. Stanislaus-Kostka, Bowlus; St. Edward, Elmdale; St. Mary, Upsala; and St. Francis, St. Francis.


Sunday, Sept. 29
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Amos 6:1a, 4-7
  • 1 Timothy 6:11-16
  • Luke 16: 19-31

For reflection

What is one thing you can do today to aid our brothers and sisters who are most in need?

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Category: Sunday Scriptures