Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism


Matthew 13:9 "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."


The Dives and Lazarus


 

 


Luke 16:19-34

There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen; and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores, Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom:

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, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.

And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazareth evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither.

And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst 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 torments.

And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.

And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.


Commentary
from the Catholic Encyclopedia

The rich fool and Dives and Lazarus raise the question whether we should interpret them as true histories or as instructive fictions. Both are directed against the chief enemy of the Gospel, riches loved and sought after. The rich fool ("Nabal", as in I Kings 25) was uttered on occasion of a dispute concerning property and Christ answers "Man, who hath appointed me judge, or divider, over you?" Not injustice, but covetousness, "the root of all evil", is here reprehended. Read St. Cyprian, "De opere et eleemosyna", 13.

The story of Lazarus, which completes this lesson by contrast, appears to have no concealed meaning and would therefore not fulfil the definition of a parable. Catholics, with Irenaeus, Ambrose, Augustine, and the church liturgy, regard it as a narrative. The modern school rejects this view, allows that our Lord may have spoken the first half of the recital (Luke 16:19-26) but considers the rest to be an allegory which condemns the Jews for not accepting the witness of Moses and the Prophets to Jesus as the Messias. In any case our Lord's resurrection furnishes an implied reference. "Abraham's bosom" for the middle state after death is adopted by the Fathers generally; it receives illustration from IV Mach. 13:17. St. Augustine (De Gen. ad Litt., viii, 7) doubts whether we can take literally the description of the other world.

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