22nd  Sunday 



The Rich Man and Lazarus


Luke 16:19-31

 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine
linen, and fared sumptuously every day: {20} And there was a certain
beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, {21}
And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's
table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. {22} And it came to
pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's
bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; {23} And in hell he lift
up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus
in his bosom. {24} And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on
me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water,
and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. {25} But Abraham
said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good
things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and
thou art tormented. {26} And beside all this, between us and you there
is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you
cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. {27}
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him
to my father's house: {28} For I have five brethren; that he may testify
unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. {29} Abraham
saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
{30} And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from
the dead, they will repent. {31} And he said unto him, If they hear not
Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose
from the dead

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. 
Today is the twenty second Sunday after Pentecost, and also is the day
we celebrate the memory of St. Hilarion the Great. We wish many years to
our beloved Archbishop Hilarion, who is down under now. 

This day is appointed the reading of  the parable of the Rich man, and
Lazarus. This parable is only given in St. Luke. We should understand
that sometimes  the Evangelists spoke about the same things, sometimes,
they didn-t. Part of the reason why  this was done was because they were
individual human beings, and they gave their own imprint to the gospel
they wrote. Also, we can see better see the  marvelous agreement of the
gospels, because  we can see how they were written in different styles,
and with a different temperament, but  when they  speak of the same
stories, they agree. They only have a little bit  different perspective.
But after all, two people can look at the same event , and both can have
a true perspective. They just see different things in the event. This
should make  us want to read more, knowing that every gospel is
different. Each story rendered is different. Sometimes all four  gospels
may give the same story, other times only three, or two, or one. This
should make us want to read more, and I admonish you -- READ. Read the
Gospels. Read what is necessary for your salvation, all the Holy
scriptures: the Gospels, the Epistles, the Old Testament and the
Psalter. Read all these things for your salvation. You should so this
every day. At least read the daily readings. 

This parable,  like all parables, has a literal meaning, and an
allegorical meaning. Out Lord spoke in parables in order to  convey a
deeper meaning to those who wish  to look into it, to those who are
willing to struggle and try to learn. Those who just see the surface
meaning lose  out on the benefit that our Lord has intended for them. 

This parable is particularly rich in meanings, MANY meanings.  It speaks
 of the Jews and the Gentiles, Lazarus  being the Gentiles, and the Rich
man being the Jews. He makes several comparisons, and basically says
that  the Gentiles are at the threshold of salvation v they were laying
at the gate of the rich man. We also  learn about the righteous and the
unrighteous, how we are to act  and how we are not to act. We seethe
endurance of Lazarus and the greediness and lack of compassion of the
rich man. We learn  something about how  you are to act if you are rich,
and something about how you are to act if you are poor. Also, we  learn
something about what it will be like in the next life, especially for
the damned. When I read what the rich man says, I am terrified. We see 
how it will be in the next life, both for the rich and the poor, that
is, those who are rich in God, otherwise known as poor in spirit. We
just read  about that didn-t we? We also learn something about rewards
and punishments in this parable. 

Oh, yes, indeed,  we will be rewarded or punished, depending on how we
live our life. This is true! It is only  recently, in the past few
hundred years, that this heresy has come about  that tries to remove
responsibility from a man.  Oh yes, we have plenty of responsibility.
Our Lord tells us  on every page of the Gospels how we are to act, how
we are to live,  and if we do not try to live in that way, yes, we will
be judged. We can  see something of this judgment in this parable.
Lastly, at the end  of this parable, we hear about the word of God and
it must be listened to. If we don-t listen to that, we cannot be
expected to be convinced by any other means, even if a man would rise
from the dead. 

The Parable  begins ?There was a certain rich man¦. A certain rich man v
he doesn-t  even have a name. But wouldn-t that be the way it would be?
The scripture says about such a man, who is rich only in things in the
temporal world, but poor in virtue, ?Let his posterity be cut off; and
in the generation following let their name be blotted out.¦ And the 
Lord says also, ?a froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a
wicked person.¦ And then our  Lord says, when He is speaking of the
Judgment, ?I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all
ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,
when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets,
in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.¦. Isn-t that what
happened to the rich man? He saw Abraham and he knew he was thrust out,
and he was a man with out a name anymore. He was a  man that God knew
not. ?His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no
name in the street.¦, so  says the Prophet Job. God help  us, that we
would not be like that, that we would have a name when eternity dawns. 
This man had no name anymore. 

And he was ?was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously
every day.¦  There are two meanings here. The Jews were  clothed with
the law, and God-s grace toward them, and it is not sin to be clothed
with purple and fine linen, and to fare sumptuously on the teaching of
God, but it  is a sin to be luxurious, or to not  appreciate what God
has given us. And that is the rich man. He had  plenty enough to spare,
and as we see later  on in the parable he KNEW Lazarus. After all,  when
he was in hell, he certainly could call him by name, but he never 
bothered while he was on the earth to even cast a glance at him. 

¦And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus¦, it says. Ah, this man
HAS a  name. God knows him. God knows him WELL.   Lazarus also
represents the Gentiles, and they indeed were beggars at the time,
because they were as yet outside of the kingdom. The kingdom had not
been revealed to them yet, and they were beggars.  ?Their remembrance 
is unto generation and generation¦, that is the man who follows Christ,
and he will have a name. That-s why Lazarus was named, and the rich man,
the rich man who people would fawn over in this life, was nameless,
faceless, without  an identity anymore in the next life. 

And it says that Lazarus ?was laid at his gate, full of sores.¦ Again
there are two meanings. This gate -- the Gentiles  are laying by the
gate, about to  enter into the kingdom of heaven, right at the threshold
of salvation.  Harlots and tax  collectors are entering into the
Kingdom, and the  Pharisees and the Sadduces didn-t know it, because
they were too arrogant to see. They thought that their purple and fine
linen would last into the next age, and indeed, it would not. 

And we also have another meaning to think about here. Who is laid at our
gate? Is there a beggar at our gate, whether he be a beggar for
clothing, a beggar for money, or a beggar  for salvation, a beggar for
comfort,  a beggar  for consolation? Who is  laid at our gate? We had
better know. The rich man was without excuse, concerning  this  man
Lazarus, because he knew him. He saw him at his gate every day,  and he
ignored him. 

Also, these  sores, what are they? They are sins.  Lazarus was blessed,
but he certainly was a sinner like you and I. The rich man was wretched,
and he also was a sinner, but Lazarus- sins were on the outside of his
skin. His sores were there, so the dogs came and licked them, and 
comforted him. The rich man-s sins were internal. They were not out  to
be purged, to be cauterized, and so he died in his sins. Confess your
sins, while you can, so that you need not confess them when there is no

And so,  when it says that ?the dogs came and licked his sores.¦, what
are we to understand by this? Do you see how alone the man was? He had
no comfort.  The DOGS came to lick his sores. No one else came, ONLY the
dogs. He had to endure  much, didn-t he? Do you see the greatness of his
soul? The scripture does  not come right out and say how great a man he
was, but can you see, can you infer? Look at what he endured v coldness,
nakedness, hunger, paralysis, loneliness, dejection, and also to see the
warmth of the house of the rich man, and to see all the foodstuffs being
brought in, and not to have anything to eat! And not to be warm.  He
endured much indeed, and the scriptures show that  he did not complain
one whit. 

 ?The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom.¦.
This beggar, he died, and to the  world, it was a non event. Someone had
to grab  him, because after all, he would start to smell, and throw him 
somewhere, into some potter-s field. No one came to pray for him. No one
cared. No one knew him.  The rich  man might have noticed after two or
three weeks, ?Oh  the beggar is  not there anymore. I don-t have to step
over him anymore. That-s good¦. His death  was of no consequence. It did
not cause a ripple in the life of that time. 

But he  did NOT die alone, and his death was a matter of  great
rejoicing in the heavens, because the angels  escorted him into
Abraham-s bosom. What does it say about those that die who  are
righteous, and the appearances, both in this world , and the REAL
appearances in the next? Solomon  says, ?But the souls of the righteous
are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the
sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for
misery, And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in
peace. For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their
hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised¦ - Lazarus-
wounds were a little bit  of chastisement mind you. Don-t look at the
appearances, look at the truth! And ?they shall be greatly rewarded: for
God proved them, and found them worthy for himself. As gold in the
furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. And
in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro
like sparks among the stubble.¦ 

So it is with the righteous when they die. The world sees a false
picture, but we know the truth. 

What  is Abraham-s bosom? Of course, it is salvation. And our  Lord made
that comment because part of the reason he said this parable was in
order to show the Jews  their foolishness. And they got the message.
This is one of the reasons they hated him so much, because they saw what
He was saying in this parable v that they were unbelievers, and of
course, the bosom of Abraham would be understood by the Jews to be
salvation. After all, He said to them in another place, ?I say unto you,
That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with
Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the
children of the kingdom¦, the Jews, those who did not understand, those 
who did not WANT to live according to what they had learned, ?shall be
cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of
teeth¦. The East and West represents the Jews and the Gentiles, the
Greek, and everyone else. Salvation was being made manifest for
everyone,  and it was before the  eyes of these proud Jews, and they

Then it mentions the rich man in this parable. ¦The rich man also died,
and was buried.¦. Period. He died alone, brothers and sisters. Oh, I am
sure there was a great fanfare. I am sure there  was a GREAT funeral for
him, and there were orations about him, and he was  buried with great
pomp and circumstance. And there were probably  paid mourners who were
weeping, and playing their horns, as the Jews were wont to do to show
how much  they loved him. And yet, so many of those  people that were
saying those things were rejoicing, because after all, he probably  was
hated by his servants. There were probably  people who owed him money
and thought, ¦Now this is wonderful. Now that he has died, I don-t owe
him anymore.  I am sure glad he died before me¦. And there was probably
someone who said ?Ah ha! I can take what he had, and add it to my
larder, because he is gone now, and I can  appropriate his goods.¦

David  says, ?Their graves shall be their houses, unto eternity¦. This
is not the mansion that our Lord speaks of. That-s the house that I want
to live in. ?Their graves shall be their houses, unto eternity¦. The
Lord will say to him, ?Your feasting is finished, your name is blotted
out of the book  of life. And I DON-T know you.¦ And that is what
happened to the rich man. 

?And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham
afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.¦ Oh yes,  there are actual torments,
and these torments are,  shall we say, the ?would-ofs¦ the ?could-ofs¦
and the ?should-ofs¦. We will  know what we should have done when we
die. May it be that we will rejoice, because God will say, ?Well done,
thou good and faithful servant¦. He is far off. He sees Abraham afar
off, in brightness. He is in murk, and he sees the light afar off. He is
far removed. And He sees Lazarus. Notice that Lazarus does not see him.
Lazarus was in bliss. He did not see him. Those in the light have
trouble seeing into the darkness, don-t they? But the people in the dark
can see into the light. Lazarus was unencumbered by the knowledge of the
Rich man-s situation. 

Don-t let the Devil trick you now. I think one of the tricks that he
has, especially for people that are converts, living in an unorthodox
country, and where we have family, perhaps children, our spouse,
brothers, sisters, parents that are not of  the Orthodox faith or are
even far away from anything even remotely resembling Christianity is
this. We worry and we fret about them, and wonder, what will it be like
when we die.  I have had this temptation, wondering how can I be happy
if I know that my father or mother is not in heaven. Well, in heaven,
you  will have understanding, because all things will be revealed. You
will be at peace. You will understand then. You don-t understand now,
but you will understand then.  Now we cannot fully understand. So don-t
let the Devil trick you. Save your soul, because if you don-t save your
soul, how can you help anyone to save theirs? And pray also for your
mother and your father, your sister and your brother.

And the rich man, or we know him as the poorest wretch don-t we? says,
?send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool
my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.¦  He who denied even a
crumb to Lazarus is denied even a drop of water for his tongue. What a
state he is in now! Instead of music, he hears  groaning. Instead of the
lust of the eyes and the pride of life, he is in darkness. Instead of 
drinking and carousing, and eating to his fill, he has thirst,  and
hunger, burning thirst. Instead of  gaiety he has despair. This is the
state of the man!

The Words of the Law were in his mouth. He was a Jew! I am sure that he
went to synagogue, and that he said some prayers, and gave some alms for
appearances sake, but the things he said, that he didn-t believe, they
burn him now! That-s what is  burning his tongue, you know. That is why
his tongue is so hot, and parched, because he  didn-t do what he said.
He said he believed something,  but he didn-t really, because he did not
act like it.

The Lord says some things about these people, who are knowledgeable, but
do not do His commandments, ¦Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this
people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me,
but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is
taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a
marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder:
for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of
their prudent men shall be hid. These wise men, so called, are those who
trust in their riches, and their gaiety, and their feasting, and have
not compassion, and their wisdom, and their prudence is hid in HADES,
and their name is FORGOTTEN. The Lord says to us on  every page of the
scripture, ?Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I
say? And the rich man is exactly like this kind of person: ?He that
heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an
house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and
immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.¦ And that
house was forgotten. 

And Abraham said to him, ?Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime
receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he
is comforted, and thou art tormented. Abraham said to him, SON! Ah, this
is a person who was in the  church, this is one of those tares that grew
up. Oh yes, there will out and out pagans in hell, and idol worshippers,
and yet, there  will also be those who call themselves Christians, those
who call themselves good Jews. Abraham recognized, ?Yes, you are one of
us, and I call you Son, but that doesn-t do  you any good now, because
the place of torment is reserved for those who  do not do the
commandments, whether they are sons, or aliens¦ . 

And He says that ?that thou in thy lifetime receivedst THY good things¦.
In English, we really cannot see this distinction, but in the Slavonic,
and Greek, this word ?receivest¦ has  a connotation of ?receive because
of what you have done¦.  What does it say in the other scriptures today,
in the usual reading for venerable fathers, men who fasted and prayed,
and became great Saints? St. Paul says ?He which soweth sparingly shall
reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also
bountifully.¦ He reaped what he sowed, because  he sowed nothing. So he
had nothing.  He was naked in the next life, and without comfort. 

And likewise, Lazarus received evil things in this world, evil in
appearances! But our Lord has something to say about that in the other
Gospel as well, because He says, ?Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the
kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled¦,
not NOW, but in the kingdom you will be filled! Be patient!. ?Blessed
are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.¦, and  run to and fro, like
sparks among the stubble. 

So Lazarus had evil things and the rich man had those things that he
thought were good things. And he made a trade, like Esau made. He traded
a pot of lentils for is birthright, is what he did.  He made the choice.
He  decided what he wanted, and we indeed can make that choice also,
brothers and sisters.  We can decide, when we want  our good things? Do
we want them now, or do we want them in the kingdom? You can have good
things now, according to your  abilities, you can have everything you
want. But you will have nothing in the Kingdom if you only pursue
temporal happiness now. Lazarus punishment was only for a moment, only
for a short time. He suffered grievously for only a short period, and
then he had eternal life.

And Abraham  then says to the rich man, to explain to him why he has no
help, no comfort, no chance: ?between us and you there is a great gulf
fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither
can they pass to us, that would come from thence.¦ Oh yes, hell is
permanent and real! And I tell you, the gulf was made by the rich man.
He dug his own pit, and jumped into it, and he has no recourse after
jumping into that pit. And see what he understood? The rich man knew
what he had done! The rich man repented, he wanted to make amends. He
was not a man with absolutely no good feelings whatsoever.

He said, ?I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to
my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto
them, lest they also come into this place of torment. His memory is all
preserved! He remembers his brothers. He remembers how they act. He
knows Lazarus. He knows Abraham, and yet he had never met the man! He
never met  him at all, because he never cared about the things he said,
did he? The senses in the next life  are finer and stronger. We see and
we understand more, we calculate more quickly in the next life, when we
are unencumbered by the flesh. Indeed, even those in Hell have finer
senses, so that they can more exquisitely  feel their pain. Do you see
how terrifying this is? All their passions are still preserved, but 
there is no fulfillment for their passions. His thirst for liquor will
never be fulfilled, his thirst for women, for song, all of it will  go
unfulfilled and will GNAW at him, and hurt him, and cut him, for
eternity! ?Their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.¦, it says
in the scripture. And that is the worm, brothers and sisters! Our
passions are the worm! They will eat  at us, unless we exorcise them
now, so that we will be unencumbered by them. And in the next life,
every knee shall bend, and all things shall be made known. Those in
Hades, they will  know, they will see Father Abraham, and this will make
their pain even more real and more exquisite. 

And Abraham says to him, ?They have Moses and the prophets; let them
hear them¦ (the word of God). ?And he said, Nay, father Abraham-¦. He
knew his brothers because he was one of them. ?- but if one went unto
them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear
not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one
rose from the dead.¦. And the Jews certainly heard this, and it angered
them, and just increased their foment, and their desire to put him to

Why is it some men will not be ?persuaded¦, whether by the Word of God,
or even obvious miracles? Certainly most people here in America would
say they ?believe¦ in God, and even  call themselves Christians, and yet
so many are not really ?persuaded¦ to live as Christians. Why is this
so? It is because they do not understand that the Christian life is a
moral life, with moral change and amendment a necessity. The rich man,
like so many in this life, said he believed, but did not change. He was
not compassionate. His wallowing in luxury dulled his senses, and he
perished in worldly splendor. Lazarus, the blessed one, endured with
patience and was saved. May God help us to endure all things, and to
change ourselves to be like Him, to love, to be patient,  eventually to
see Him in paradise. 


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 This homily was transcribed from one given On October Third, 1996
according to the church calendar, being the Twenty Second Sunday after
Pentecost and the day appointed for the commemoration of St. Hilarion
the Great. There are some stylistic changes and minor corrections made
and several footnotes have been added, but otherwise, it is essentially
in a colloquial, ?spoken¦ style. It is hoped that something in these
words will help and edify the reader, but a sermon read from a page
cannot enlighten a soul as much as attendance and reverent worship at
the Vigil service, which prepares the soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the
hearing of the scriptures and the preaching of them in the context of
the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such circumstances the soul is enlightened
much more than when words are read on a page. 

 Cf. Luke 16:19-31

 Cf. Luke 6:17-23, the Gospel reading for St. Hilarion the Great. 

 Luke 16:19

 Psalm 109:13

 Psalm 101:4

 Luke 13:27-28

 Job 18:17

 Luke 16:19

 Luke 16:20


 Cf. Matthew 21:31


 Wisdom 3:1 - 7

 Matthew 8:11-12

 Matthew 8:11-12

 Luke 16:22

 Cf. John 14:2

 Luke 16:23

 Luke 16:24

 Isaiah 29:13-14

 Luke 6:46

 Luke 6:49

 Luke 16:25

 2 Corinthians 9:6. The appointed epistle reading for venerable Fathers
is 2 Cor. 9:6-11

 Luke 6:20-21. The appointed Gospel reading for venerable Fathers is
Luke 6:17-23.

 Cf. Genesis 25:29-34

 Luke 16:26

 Luke 16:27-28

 Isaiah 66:2, quoted in Mark 9:44,46,48

 Cf. Philippians 2:10

 Luke 16:31