This week’s parable from St. Luke’s Gospel follows directly in the text from the parable we heard last week, the parable of the dishonest steward. Do you remember that one? There was a well-off manager of a rich man’s estates. He was rich because he’d been cooking the estate books and skimming off the top. When he was found out, he came up with a scheme to let his boss’s partners pay off their outstanding debts at a pretty big discount – something like from $50,000 to $100,000 or so on a debt of $200,000. It’s a considerable amount, and it means the customers will owe him, the manager, a debt when this all shakes out.
Jesus in telling the parable commends the dishonest manager. He saw the danger he was in, and he found a way to respond that saved his skin. Jesus tells those of us who have wealth – particularly wealth that may have sinful behavior somewhere in the background, to use that wealth in a similar way. We will need people to speak up for us on the day of judgement because the same God who pardons us also pronounces the reckoning.
That’s not the case in this week’s parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Rich Man sees Lazarus but doesn’t recognize the gravity of his situation and because of his inaction, when he dies, he has no escape from the suffering he endures. There’s no direct condemnation of this wealth in this story. It’s an illustration of the consequence of his inaction – his neglect.
Direct link to the video is found here.