The rich man, in purple splendor, is not accused of being greedy or of carrying off the property of another, or of committing adultery, or, in fact, of any wrongdoing. The evil alone of which he is guilty is pride. Most wretched of men, you see a member of your own body lying there outside at your gate, and have you no compassion? If the laws of God mean nothing to you, at least take pity on your own situation and be in fear, for perhaps you might become like him. Give what you waste to your own member. I am not telling you to throw away your wealth. What you throw out, the crumbs from your table, offer as alms.1
“There was a certain poor man, named Lazarus.” The meaning of Lazarus’s name is … one who has been helped. He is not a helper but one who has been helped. He was a poor man, and in his poverty, the Lord came to his assistance.2
GREGORY OF NYSSA:
Once one has chosen the pleasure of this life and has not remedied this bad choice by a change of heart, he produces for himself a place empty of good hereafter. He digs this unavoidable necessity for himself like some deep and trackless pit.3
I think that we have proved that Christ did not object to the riches of the rich man but to his impiety, infidelity, pride and cruelty.…
The rich must not start saying that I have agreed to be their advocate. They felt afraid, after all, when reminded of the gospel. When they heard about the rich man hurled into the pains of hell, they felt afraid. I have reassured them. They do not need to fear riches but vices. They should not fear wealth but greed. They should not be afraid of goods but of greed. Let them possess wealth like Abraham, and let them possess it with faith. Let them have it, possess it and not be possessed by it.4
EPHREM THE SYRIAN:
Why should he have seen Abraham above all the just, and Lazarus in his bosom? He saw him because Abraham loved the poor and so that we might learn that we cannot hope for pardon at the end, unless the fruits of pardon can be seen in us. If Abraham, who was friendly to strangers and had mercy on Sodom, was not able to have mercy on the one who did not show pity to Lazarus, how can we hope that there will be pardon for us? That man called him “my father,” and Abraham called him “my son,” but he was not able to help him. “Remember, my son, that you received good things during your life and Lazarus evil things.”5
ISAAC OF NINEVEH:
Strive to discover stirrings that are good during the time of prayer, as the wise do. These consist in reflection on the Spirit’s insights and sagacious thought, and consideration during the time of prayer of how to please the will of the Maker of all. This is the final end of all virtue and of all prayer. When in these matters you receive the power that stems from grace to be bound firmly to their continual stirrings, you will become a “man of God” and will be close to spiritual things.6
“As for you, man of God, flee from these things.” You see, he didn’t just say, “Leave and forsake,” but “Flee from,” as from an enemy. You were trying to flee with gold; flee from gold instead. Let your heart flee from it, and your use of it need have no worries. Do without greed; don’t do without concern for others. There’s something you can do with gold, if you’re its master, not its slave. If you’re the master of gold, you can do good with it; if you’re its slave, it can do evil with you.7
Prayer itself must come from a humble, meek, pure heart. It must confess its sins without making excuses. In the course of bitter tears it will show trust in the most sweet pity of the Lord. It must not seek earthly aims but desire heavenly ones. It must be sequestered from desires of the body and attach itself solely to the divine. In short, it must be wholly spiritual, bestowing nothing but tears on the flesh. Insofar as it is lawful, seek to behold in mental contemplation him whom you entreat and then you realize what sort of person you should be in offering yourself prostrate before him. He is, as Paul says, “the blessed and only Mighty, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”8
We must understand, therefore, that this charity, which God is, in whoever it exists loves nothing earthly, nothing material, nothing corruptible. It is against its nature to love anything corruptible, seeing that it is itself the fount of incorruption. For, because God, “who only has immortality and inhabits light inaccessible,” is charity, it is charity alone that possesses immortality.9
- ON LAZARUS AND DIVES. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (pp. 260–261). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON LAZARUS AND DIVES. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 261). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON THE SOUL AND THE RESURRECTION. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 261). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 299E.5. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 262). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON TATIAN’S DIATESSARON 15.12–13. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 263). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- INSTRUCTIONS FOR MONKS, SECOND PART. Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 217). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Sermons 177.3. Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 217). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- EXPLANATION OF THE PSALMS 141, CONCLUSION. Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 219). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON THE SONG OF SONGS, PROLOGUE.2.28. Gorday, P. (Ed.). (2000). Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (p. 220). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.