The third window on the pulpit side of the church illustrates the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This is one of three parables found in the Gospel of Luke that has to do with “a rich man” who is out of touch with the needs of ordinary people (Luke 12:16-21, 16:1-9, and here 16:19-31).
This parable draws a stark contrast between two figures: a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. The difference between the two is dramatic. One has expensive and luxurious clothing and eats the finest food. He enjoys his wealth and the status it gives him. The other man is covered in sores. He lays on the ground outside the gate of the rich man’s home. Hungry, he longs for scraps that fall from the rich man’s table. Dogs don’t even respect this man’s sorry condition for they lick his sores. The rich man certainly gives Lazarus no attention or consideration. The stained-glass window shows the rich man enjoying a lavish meal with a richly spread table along with two guests while Lazarus is huddled on the floor beneath the table with one arm raised in supplication. He is completely overlooked by the other figures.
The parable goes on to show a great reversal that follows after death. The story takes an imaginative turn to speak about what each man will find in the afterlife. We find that Lazarus is judged to be faithful and he receives an inheritance along with the great model of faith, Abraham. He receives the care of angels. The rich man however receives judgment that leads to torment. The rich man isn’t happy with this turn of events and he does his best to fix it. He calls out to Abraham. He thinks Lazarus is there to do his bidding. But his protests and commands have no impact. Abraham explains,
“‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received good things, whereas Lazarus received terrible things. Now Lazarus is being comforted and you are in great pain. 26 Moreover, a great crevasse has been fixed between us and you. Those who wish to cross over from here to you cannot. Neither can anyone cross from there to us.’ (vv.25-26)
The path he chose in life namely, to value his wealth and to ignore the needs of ordinary people, including the poor, has certain consequences.
The parable calls the listener to consider their own choices and values. If we are too attached to wealth and status that we ignore the needs of others, watch out! We are to be mindful of others and share what we have in ways that show love and compassion for all. God’s children.