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Today's Gospel + short theological explanation

Thursday 2nd of Lent

Gospel text (Lk 16,19-31): Jesus said to his disciples, «Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man's table (…).

»The rich man also died and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out: ‘(…) I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father's house where my five brothers live. Let him warn them so that they may not end up in this place of torment’. Abraham replied: ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them’. But the rich man said: ‘No, Father Abraham. But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent’. Abraham said: ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be con¬vinced even if someone rises from the dead’».

Jesus, crucified and resurrected, is the true “Lazarus”

EDITORIAL TEAM evangeli.net (based on texts by Benedict XVI) (Città del Vaticano, Vatican)

Today, we consider the final part of the “Parable of the Rich Man and the poor Lazarus”. From the Hades the rich man tells Abraham what many men, then and nowadays, would like to tell God: if you want us to believe in you, then you must be clearer; send us someone from the afterlife who can tell us that it is indeed as you say.

Asking for a proof is a constant along the whole Gospel. Abraham’s answer, as well as the one from Jesus, is evident: those who don’t believe in the Scripture Word won’t also believe in someone who comes from the afterlife. The ultimate truths cannot undergo the empirical evidence. Let’s think about the resurrection of Lazarus in Bethany: miracles do not lead to faith, but to the hardening of hearts.

—Jesus —crucified at the city gates, exposed to mockery— is the true Lazarus sent by the Father: to believe in Him and to follow Him is the invitation of this parable, which is more than a parable.

The doctrine of the Purgatory in the “Parable of the rich man and Lazarus”

EDITORIAL TEAM evangeli.net (based on texts by Benedict XVI) (Città del Vaticano, Vatican)

Today, Jesus admonishes us through the image of a soul destroyed by arrogance and opulence, who has created an impassable chasm between himself and the poor man; the chasm of being trapped within material pleasures; the chasm of forgetting the other, of incapacity to love.

In this parable Jesus is not referring to the final destiny after the Last Judgment, but is taking up a notion found, inter alia, in early Judaism, namely that of an intermediate state between death and resurrection, a state in which the final sentence is yet to be pronounced. There these souls are not simply in a sort of temporary custody but are already being punished or are experiencing a provisional form of bliss.

—This state can involve purification and healing which mature the soul for communion with God. The early Church took up these concepts, gradually developed into the doctrine of Purgatory.