Summary: A sermon for the 17th sunday after Pentecost Series C Proper 21 A sermon about Dives and the rich man
17th Sunday after Pentecost
"Eat, Drink & Be Sorry"
""There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, ’Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ’Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ’Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ’They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ’No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ’If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’"" Luke 16:19-31, RSV.
Among the many parables of Soren Kiekegaard is the story of a wild pigeon. The pigeon lived contentedly from season to season enjoying its freedom to come and go as it pleased. One day it perched itself on the roof of a farmhouse, observing some domestic pigeons sheltered within a cage the farmer had constructed for them. The wild pigeon watched the farmer returning home at the end of the day, stopping on his way to feed the pigeons.
As the pigeon flew away, it occurred to him for the first time that he did not know where his next meal would come from, or that he would always have a shelter over his head. For the first time he was not completely satisfied with the freedom with which he flew from open meadows to the upper most branches of a tree. "How much better," he thought, "to have meals served to me in my very own house." When no one was looking, he flew down from the roof of the farmhouse and squeezed his way into the pigeon pen. That evening as the farmer returned from the fields, he reached into the pen and took the wild pigeon. Inside his house he prepared his supper of pigeon stew.
The pigeon sought comfort, ease, abundant food and a nice warm house to live in. He was willing to give up his freedom of flight for these things, but instead he gave up his life.
Our gospel lesson this morning is about a man who also was comfortable, who had abundant food, and a warm house to live in. This man lived a very comfortable, easy and rich live. He had it made. But when his life on this earth ended, he was willing to have given up all his riches for just one drop of cool water because in the afterlife he was living in anguish the flame of Hades. What was this man’s sin? Why did he end in eternal hell, while the poor man Lazarus was in the comfortable bosom of Abraham? What was Dives sin? We can call this rich man Dives for it is the Latin word for rich. By itself, wealth is not a sin. God’s blessing often rains down in material as well as spiritual ways. You and I do not need to be embarrassed about all that we have. We do have the highest standard of living in the entire world. Instead, we ought to recognize the Giver and look for ways to express our thanks for his grace toward us by sharing a portion of it with others. The rich man’s sin was not simply his great wealth.