There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
Imagine the fine linen the man was wearing. Can you feel the texture of the material? How comfortable you feel in your nice robe. And just smell that banquet set before you. You can see the steam rise up from the plate and your taste buds begin tingling as you begin to salivate and indulge in the finest food money can buy.
And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.
Now imagine yourself sitting outside a gate glancing through the bars. As you gaze upon the banquet table through the window your stomach growls and you wince through the hunger pains. You don’t even really notice the sores on your body until the dogs begin licking them. Their breath, their filth, and the rot from your sores wake you from your day dream as the reality of death wafts in and out of your nostrils.
The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham.
You die and no one even notices except for the dogs that used to lick your wounds.
The rich man also died and was buried.
Now you are the rich man again. You die and this time people notice, but not because of your generosity or benevolence. No, they notice because they are fighting over your possessions.
In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’
The heat is intense and your throat is beyond parched. Like cracked desert ground you long for even a drop of water. As you are about to despair you notice someone in the distance. It is Father Abraham, the symbol of hope and promise to you and your people. You cry out to him hoping against hope that he will help you. All you want is a drop of water to cool your tongue.
But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
To your horror Abraham refuses to help you. He reminds you of all the good things you had and how much suffering Lazarus endured. As you listen your mind drifts back to when you were alive. Yes, now you remember seeing Lazarus sitting outside your gate. Why didn’t you take notice then? Was it your “sumptuous feast” that distracted you? There is no hope for you now.
He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’
What about your family? You remember you have family and they like you are feasting sumptuously. Is it too late for them? You cry out in desperation, “Save my family from this horror!”
Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”” (Luke 16:19–31 NRSV)