‘If they will not listen to Moses or the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead,’ (Lk 16:31) Abraham tells the rich man at the end of the parable we find in today’s Gospel. The rich man, dead and suffering in hell, had thought that, if someone went back from the dead to confirm the message of Moses and the prophets, his brothers would believe and repent, but, in the words Jesus puts into the mouth of Abraham, we find a clear reference to the fact that, even after Christ’s resurrection there will be those who refuse to accept the truth of God’s offer of salvation and the need for repentance.
Now, of course, it’s all too tempting to interpret that saying as applying to other people – we Christians, after all, believe Christ has risen from the dead; we believe that he shows us, in himself, the way to salvation, so we’re all right, aren’t we? Well, that doesn’t seem quite to be the point Jesus is making. For the story of the rich man and Lazarus is also, of course, about how we behave: if the point is that the rich man should have known from Moses and the prophets of his duty to treat the poor man Lazarus with care, rather than simply pursuing his own pleasure.
In that case, though, how much more must we who profess our faith in the risen Christ ask ourselves, especially during this season of repentance, whether we really allow the Spirit of Christ to govern our lives and actions, or whether, instead, we act selfishly, setting our sights on lesser goods even though our faith teaches us that this will harm not only those around us, but in the end ourselves too.