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DivesLuke 16: 19-31

St Jerome points out that the rich man is guilty of only one evil – pride. He saw, daily, another human being lying in poverty and wretchedness at his gates and his heart was not moved. The rich man saw him, and he did nothing. The name ‘Lazarus’ means ‘one who has been helped’ As St Cyril reminds us, even the dogs took pity on him, but the rich man showed less sympathy than animals; he was cruel and lacked mercy. As he had judged, so he too, would be judged. St Augustine comments that Jesus tells us the name of the poor man, whose name was already written in heaven; but we are not told the name of the rich man, whose name was blotted out.

St Gregory of Nyssa tells us that gulf between them is one dug by the rich man, who amidst his riches and pleasures, has hardened his heart to his fellow man. St Augustine adds that it is not the riches of the rich man to which Christ objected, but his failure to put them to good use, and the selfishness and pride which he exhibited.

Gregory the Great takes literally Christ’s words that the rich man suffers the pains of burning in hell, and reminds us that ‘Since Christ describes the condemned sinner Dives surrounded by the flames of hell, no one with understanding would deny that fires holds fast the souls of the wicked.’

Peter Chrysologus points out that even in hell, the rich man continues to treat Lazarus with contempt, asking that Lazarus be sent to him; he does not ask to be led to Lazarus.

St Augustine emphasises that ‘the measure you will give will be the measure you get.’ [Matthew 7:2] The rich man ignored Lazarus’ torment, now his torment will be ignored. That judgment is one he has brought upon himself. He did not receive the poor, he did not receive the wretched, and in not receiving these, he did not receive Christ/ There would be no point Abraham sending anyone to the brothers of the rich man, for like him, they had rejected the words of Moses and the prophets. Indeed, the Jews fulfilled the prophesy here, as they did not believe, even though Christ himself rose from the dead.

In the hardness of his heart, and in his want of charity, the rich man had spurned the words of the law and the prophets, he had feasted and had his fill, and all manner of good things had been his, and yet he had not shared even a scrap of them with the poor man at his gate. In so doing he had brought a judgment upon himself. So do all who do as he did.