I don’t know what I’ve done in life. Perhaps I sinned somehow.
I’m too sick and weak to work, to sow or reap or plow.
I lie here day by day at this rich man’s gate,
but I hardly think he notices my fate.
Do the dogs come to taste me or to comfort me? I really wish I knew.
But at least they don’t ignore me, as so many others do!
The dogs lick my open sores. If only the rich man cared so much!
The dogs are my physicians. But I’m too unclean for human touch!
The rich man’s table is heaped with food. Couldn’t I have just a crust of bread?
Yes, there is comfort for my soul; there is no hunger for me if I am dead!
Why does that beggar trouble me day by day.
Does he expect me to help _everyone_ who comes my way?
If I gave away my fortune to just everyone who came,
then I would be just as poor as they, and then we’d be all the same.
I’ve worried and fretted and clawed my way, and now I finally have peace of mind.
Once I was where Lazarus is, but no one bothered to be kind!
I’m tired of hearing about Lazarus! He is no different than a hundred other men!
“Master! Master. Don’t trouble yourself. Lazarus will never bother you again!”
Many years went by.
Now the rich man was old and it was time for him to die.
They all planned the best funeral that money could afford.
All the famous men were there and they sent him off to his reward.
Suddenly the rich man woke from his peaceful sleep of death.
He breathed and screamed in agony as fire seared his every breath!
Open sores were licked by each burning flame.
The rich man screamed in agony, but no one came! No one came!
In the distance, out of the darkness, the rich man saw more fire lights.
They were not the fires of torment, but of long ago festive nights.
He saw tables and candles, and foods and wine.
He saw guests in fine clothing preparing to dine.
He heard music and laughter and singing,
in short all the joy and all of the best,
and servants very graciously bringing,
whatever was wanted to each happy guest.
The rich man began to cry out in despair,
“Why oh why can’t I be there!”
Then the rich man saw a familiar face,
sitting at an honored place,
sitting right beside father Abraham.
The rich man said, “He’s taken my seat, where I always am!”
Suddenly he knew this honored guest!
He knew the one who took his place and was so bountifully blessed.
He cried, “Father Abraham! How can this be?
Can’t you have some pity on me?
In God’s name!
I am in agony in this flame!
They feast while I burn! Have you no shame!”
Then Abraham slowly stood,
as somehow the rich man knew he would.
He saw Abraham’s flowing robes of white,
as he stepped out of the fire light.
He stepped some distance from the banquet hall,
when the rich man had begun to call.
He approached a great chasm, and walked up to the ledge.
He gazed far out over its edge.
While Abraham was gone,
the feasting went right on.
When Abraham stepped outside,
then Abraham replied,
“In your comfort, you had no care.
Now you are here, and he is there.
You haven’t been mistreated at all.
Once you sat in a banquet hall.
You felt no pity as he lay at your gate.
You deserve your awful fate.
Lazarus cannot come to comfort you.
He couldn’t come if he wanted to.
A great chasm exists, deep and wide.
Like the distance between humility and pride,
as deep as the selfish heart can run,
as bottomless as deeds which can not be undone.”
Oh please,” the rich man begged, “My brothers don’t know about this place!
I know they can never again see my face,
but if one of your righteous ones could go back from the dead,
surely they would believe what that righteous one said.”
Abraham said, “I know how desperately you implore.
But after all, people have come back from the dead before.
Holy prophets have written what God himself has said.
Would they really listen to someone who came back from the dead?
Let them first read scripture and obey.
I’m sorry, but there is no other way.”
Then Abraham to his guests, returned,
and the rich man suspended in his loneliness, burned and burned and burned!
By Chris Hansen