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Sermon on the Rich Man and Lazarus

A Sermon On The Gospel For the Fifth Sunday of Saint Luke

The Rich Man and Lazarus

By Metropolitan Moses

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we have heard the Gospel regarding the rich man and Lazarus.

In this Gospel, we see a man who had all things that the men of this age desire: riches, fine clothes, a life of enjoying sumptuous banquets and making merry every day! It would be easy to envy such a man. Yet, if we gave ourselves over to this type of envy would be useless and vain. It would be envy over external things and pleasures that are here today and gone tomorrow.

However, there is a useful envy. When we envy men of virtue in the sense that we admire them and compare ourselves to them and see what is lacking in us and strive to be like them, it is a very useful form of envy. This type of envy can be used to goad us to move forward in the virtues.

Also in this Gospel we see poor Lazarus, who, day in and day out, struggled with the burden of poverty and hunger. And what made Lazarus’ struggle more burdensome was that the rich man had such abundance and could have helped him, yet he completely ignored him. Some might be tempted to blaspheme because of such a fate, but Lazarus remembered the example of Job and how it is written, “In all these events that befell him Job sinned not at all before the Lord, and did not impute folly to God.” (Job 1:22). In a very real way, Lazarus rejected the temptation to sin against God in his thoughts and said like Job, “I myself came forth naked from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, the Lord has taken away: as it seemed good to the Lord, so has it come to pass; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

And so Lazarus, knowing how God sees all things and rewards those who hope on Him blessed God and thanked Him, even in his afflictions.

Time passed and the rich man and Lazarus both died.

Let us consider that Lazarus was envied by no man, yet because of his hidden virtues of patience and longsuffering awoke in the next life in the bosom of Abraham! He who was deprived of all things for a season was now the possessor of all good things for all eternity! He, who seemed to be alone before, was found to be forever in the company of the saints! It would be wise to envy such a man.

And the rich man died and awoke in a place of want and sorrow, not for a few months or years, but for eternity. He who was rich, became the poorest of the poor for eternity. He who was once rich had to ask Father Abraham to send Lazarus to him just so he could quench his thirst with a drop of water. This was the very same man who did not offer food or even water to Lazarus during his earthly life.

This is astonishing.

By this parable, our Lord seeks to open our eyes to the dangers of completely immersing ourselves in the riches and pleasures of this life. The saints were not impressed with the things of this world because, no matter how great or powerful a person is, there is no man who can remain here forever. The day will come for each one of us where we will have to depart this life and be judged. How many arrogant men will awaken in the next life shocked and confused, with the worm of regret gnawing at their soul?

What will it be for us: the rich man or Lazarus? The rich man immersed himself in the things of this world and forgot all conception or understanding of the things of the age to come. Yet, even in his affliction, Lazarus prayerfully blessed God, much like the Prophet Job.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you think that when the rich man awoke in hades that he gloated about his former glory? Do you imagine that Lazarus had any regrets concerning his former afflictions when he awoke in the bosom of Abraham?

Whether we perceive it or not, by the will of God, we are immortal. Our God Who has revealed this to us has a plan for each one of us. Our Lord Jesus Christ has promised that He if we bear the burdens of this life and take up our cross and follow Him, He will make us partakers of His resurrection.

No matter what happens in life, let us cultivate a remembrance of God and gratefulness to Him. We do this by making efforts in our daily prayers. The Holy Fathers teach us that we should begin our prayer with thanksgiving for all things and next remember our sins and ask for forgiveness and then make entreaty for our needs.

Pray and ask God to give you and your families and all Christians strong faith and hope in times of affliction. In this life of uncertainty our only true refuge is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Theotokos and all of the saints. Remember the steadfast hope of Lazarus the poor and how his life of patience pleased God and became a source of eternal joy.

May God grant you and your families to find joy in the Resurrection in the age to come with Lazarus, Abraham and all of the saints. Amen.

November 14, 2022


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