LECTIO DIVINA: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk. 16:19 – 31.
A. Invoking the Holy Spirit.
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ, is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God. (s. 128, 40) Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the neither world, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad, but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’” +
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
“For the rich man dressed in purple and very fine linen his pleasures were ended; for the poor man filled with sores his miseries were finished. That man feared his last day, this one desired it. The day arrived for the two, but it was not found equal for both; and as it was not found equal for both, neither did it come equal for the two. Death was the same for the one and the other; the end of this life was a condition common for both. You heard what united them, listen now to what separates them. It happened then that that poor man died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom; the rich man also died, and was buried. That poor man perhaps was not even buried. Now you know the rest. The rich man was tormented in hell, the poor man was resting in the bosom of Abraham. The pleasures and the miseries passed away. Everything ended and was transformed. One passed from the pleasures to the torments; the other from the miseries to the pleasures. In fact, the pleasures as well as the miseries had been transitory; the torments and the pleasures that follow them have no end. Neither the wealth in the rich person is condemned, nor the poverty in the poor man is praised; but in the first impiety was condemned and in the second, piety was praised. It sometimes happens that men listen to these things in the Gospel, and those who possess nothing are filled with joy and even the beggar exults in these words. He says: “I will be in the bosom of Abraham, not that rich man.” Let us reply to the poor man: “You lack the sores; try to acquire merits; desire even the tongues of the dogs. You brag about being poor; I ask you if you are faithful; in fact, poverty in the unfaithful means torment here and condemnation there.” Let us speak to the rich man: “When you heard what is said in the Gospel about that man dressed in purple and the finest linen and who banqueted splendidly every day, you were filled with fear; I do not disapprove that fear; but fear more what is disapproved there. That rich man despised the poor man who laid at the door of his house awaiting the crumbs that fall from his table; he did not offer him clothing, nor shelter, nor any mercy. This is what was punished in the person of the rich man: the cruelty, the impiety, the pride, the arrogance, the infidelity; these are the things punished in the person of the rich man.” Someone will tell me: “How do you prove that? The wealth precisely has been condemned.” If I am not capable of proving it using the same chapter of the Gospel, let no one pay attention to me. When that rich man found himself in the midst of torments in hell, he desired that a drop of water fall into his tongue from the finger of someone who had desired the crumbs from his table. Perhaps, it would have been easier for this man to arrive at the crumbs than for that man to arrive at the drop of water. In fact, he was denied that drop of water. Abraham, in whose bosom was the poor man, answered him: “Remember, son, that you received your goods in your life. What I propose to show is that in him impiety and infidelity were condemned, not the wealth nor the abundance of temporal goods. He said, you had received your goods in your life. What does ‘your goods’ mean? You did not consider the others as goods. What does ‘in your life’ mean? You did not believe that there would be another. Your goods, then, not those of God; in your life, not of a life in Christ. You received your goods in your life. What you believed in is finished, and in consequence, you did not receive the better goods, because when you found yourself in the lesser goods, you did not want to believe in them.
Perhaps, we are oppressing this rich man, and we interpret in our way the bosom of father Abraham. To say something with greater clarity, let us unwrap what is wrapped, let us enlighten what is obscure, let us open to those who knock. When help was denied to him, that minimal act of mercy, to fulfill what is written: “The judgment will be without mercy for one who did not practice mercy” (St 2, 13) (s. 299E, 3-4).
With the text, let us now pray from the depth of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you dialogue with God, and at the same time can give rise to affection and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
a. “This is what was punished in the person of the rich man: the cruelty, the impiety, the pride, the arrogance and infidelity” (s. 299E, 3).
- How do you live mercy and compassion in your life?
- For the rich man helping Lazarus would have cost him nothing, why do you believe that he did nothing for him?
b. “They already have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them!” (Lk. 16:29).
- What importance do you give to the Scriptures in your life?
- To what does meditation on the Word of God commit you?
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again you need not follow all of it, rather you can choose what fit your personal experience.
a. Contemplate the rich man splendidly banqueting and the poor man Lazarus at his door. Identify yourself with Lazarus, and experience what the name Lazarus in Hebrew mean, i.e., “God is my helper”.