In our Gospel reading this week Jesus tells us the story of two men - a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The rich man lived an extravagant life as rich men usually do. Meanwhile Lazarus in his poverty lay suffering outside the gate of his house, but his cries for help fell on deaf ears and he received no sympathy from the rich man.
This week is also the time when the church celebrates the feast of St Michael and all the Angels or Michaelmas. Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. He is best known in the scriptures in the book of Revelation where he leads the heavenly armies out to defeat Satan. From scripture and Christian tradition St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, The first is to combat Satan. The second is to escort the faithful to heaven at their hour of death. The third is to be a champion of all Christians, and the Church itself. And the fourth is to call men from life on Earth to their heavenly judgment.
But back to Jesus’ story. Eventually both of our characters die. Lazarus is escorted by the angels (possibly St Michael) up to heaven while our rich man winds up in a much less pleasant and far ,far hotter place where he cries out for Lazarus to be sent to help him. Even in death it seems our rich friend can’t think about anyone but himself.
Some people see this story as a story about death and judgement for rich people. But it really is a story about how we should live our life. The rich man is not punished for being rich but rather for his unwillingness to be merciful to someone in need. Last week Jesus warned the Pharisees to learn the meaning of being merciful. This week he shows them what happens to those who are not. In the same way Jesus commands us as his followers to live as people who practice love and mercy. .And each time we do his kingdom is revealed and God is glorified.
Till next time. Andrew
Rev. Andrew Smith
Vicar of Light in the Hills