Tuesday: Psalm 48-49 & Luke 16:19-31

From Drew Alexander

I find this story a hard one to hear. The rich man, having lived a life of comfort and luxury, now finds himself in torment, and separated from Abraham by a great chasm. The poor man, Lazarus, having lived off the scraps of the rich man's table, now stands beside Abraham. 

The order of the world as the rich man understood it has been inverted. Having lived in comfort he lives now in anguish. He is now the one who begs, and despite his new state he still pleads to be served rather than to serve, asking for Lazarus to come to him or his brothers. And his pleading is denied.

It is hard not to read this final denial as a cold one: "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead." I read that passage and want the opposite to be said, or for someone at least to be sent. But perhaps the coldness is not in the response, but already in the heart of the rich man and his brothers--it is the wayward cultivation of their own hearts that keeps them from being able to hear. 

Just as the rich man's conception of the world is inverted, so too may ours be. We, like the rich man, and as in Psalm 49, walk the path of "those who have foolish confidence"--confidence in ourselves, that our wealth, successes, or present glory will suffice for us. But we see quite clearly in our readings to today that our hope and trust are only capable of being fulfilled when they are placed beyond ourselves and our own means. It is the poor man who is known by his name, Lazarus, rather than by his wealth as the rich man is. We too shall be known by name, but we may need to give pause, and consider whether we do not too often cultivate our hearts and habits in the opposite manner, whether we are not too often exercising the foolish confidence of the rich man, rather than the humility of Lazarus.