In Luke chapter sixteen, the Gospel writer shared Jesus’ parable about the rich man and Lazarus. In this parable, the reader learns about a rich man who completely ignored the plight of another man named Lazarus who wasted away at his doorstep starving and suffering from a physical affliction. Jesus put a fine point on Lazarus’s suffering, “Dogs even used to come and lick his sores” (v. 21).
Their roles are reversed in the afterlife: Lazarus joins Abraham far above the “netherworld “where the rich man found himself. In spite of the rich man’s pleading and begging, Abraham denies him even a drop of water. Eventually acknowledging his plight, the rich man implores Abraham to send Lazarus back to the living to warn the rich man’s brothers to amend their ways so as to avoid the same plight. Abraham denies this request, too. He says, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them” (v. 29). The rich man admits that will not be enough. To which Abraham replies, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31). In other words, God’s Word is sufficient as a guide to eternal life.
In addition to Moses and the prophets, twenty-first century people have centuries of theological reflection on the Hebrew and Christian scripture, including Catholic social teaching. CST provides another tool according to which we can interpret and respond to the contemporary context as we discern how we will stand with the poor.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Religious Studies
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.