Across the Abyss

30 10 2013

Dives could afford colored flaxen clothing, garments made with purple only people of the highest rank could possess. He could help himself to sumptuous, gourmet meals three and four times a day.

Eleazar, sickly and desperately poor, could help himself to nothing, and he was thus given the nickname Lazarus. Left at the back gate of the Dives mansion, he begged to share the rich man’s garbage with the pariah dogs.

As it does for all of us, the time came for each of those two to die.

Angels escorted Eleazar to Paradise, where the Patriarch Abraham welcomed him.

Dives found himself lost to the Pit. Allowed to perceive an appearance of Eleazar in the embrace of Abraham at an eternal distance, Dives screamed, “Father! Father Abraham! How can it be that I am here and not there? Am I not your son, too? And a better one?”

“Son,” said Abraham, “does this long-standing Word sound at all familiar? ‘For the poor shall never cease out of the land. Therefore I command thee: thou shalt in thy land open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy.’

“And this Word? ‘He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; that which he hath given will He pay him again.’

“And this Word? ‘Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.’ ”

“Why this apparition?” Dives cried. “If you must torment me with old words, try tormenting me as well with fresh water. Send Eleazar to flick as little as a drop onto my parched tongue. This flame is hell!”

Abraham, who once upon a time had himself been rich, answered, “Son, remember that you felt right in believing you had a right to your blessings, and to covet the many good things you received. In your self-righteousness, you believed yourself worthy of them. My son Eleazar received no such things, not from you. As my son and our Master makes clear, ‘From the one to whom much has been given, much will be required.’

Eleazar was gracious enough to allow the dogs to lick his sores. You, however, allowed time for Grace and graciousness to pass squandered. Eleazar is now in comfort, and you are now in agony.

“Furthermore, a great and fathomless abyss exists between you and us. Anyone among us wanting to cross to you cannot do so, and no one from there can do likewise and cross to us.”

Dives wept, “Father Abraham, I beg you! Then send Eleazar to my father’s house and to my five brothers so he can frighten them away from this place of anguish.”

Abraham answered, “The Word of Moses and all the Prophets remains. How many times and in how many ways did they say you shall love your neighbor as yourself? How many times and in how many ways did they reveal the source, the spring, the Spirit of that Love? Your brothers can listen to them.”

“No, father Abraham,” Dives pleaded. “They will not listen. But if someone from the dead goes to haunt them…”

Abraham said, “Son, you know as well as I that people listen only to ghosts they believe do not exist. If people will not listen to Moses and the Prophets speaking as inspired by the Holy Ghost, they will not listen to Someone―my son and our Master—even when He does indeed rise from the dead.”

 

D. Raymond-Wryhte

(Luke 16:19-31)

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