Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
(Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 16:19-31)
The “bosom of Abraham” has a history outside Christianity. “Bosom” in biblical times referred to the chosen place at the right of the host during a festive gathering. There is a glimpse of this in the Gospel of John where the beloved disciple sits close enough to Jesus that he can talk to him privately. In today’s gospel the poor Lazarus enjoys such intimacy with Abraham.
The passage presents a frightful warning to those who ignore the plight of the poor. They will be judged as unworthy of eternal rest. It is not that they cling to the Law of Moses and refuse to believe in Jesus but they ignore Moses whom Jesus is bringing to fulfillment. Is Lazarus rewarded just because he suffered want in the world? The gospel tempts us to believe this, but it should be taken for granted that he lived in accordance with the Law and therefore welcomed Jesus’ message of the advent of God’s kingdom.
Abraham is the exemplar of faith in the Old Testament. If we truly believe, then we follow God’s command to care for the poor. Not doing so – mistreating or even ignoring the poor in our midst – indicates not just our lack of charity but a defect in our faith.