Rich man & Lazarus
Lk. 16:19a.]  “He was clothing himself (ejnediduvsketo) in purple and fine linen,” using
the imperfect middle of endidusko, that is, it was his habit. Saint Kyril: “His study was
to deck himself in beautiful attire, so that his raiment was of great price, and he lived
in never-ceasing banquetings.” [Hom. 111, Commentary, 453.]

[Lk. 16:19b.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “Whom does this rich man represent if not the
Jews? They had a cultivated life outwardly, and used the advantages of the law they
had received to adorn themselves, not for service.” [Hom. 40, Forty Gospel Homilies,
371; P.L. 76 (col. 1302).]

[Lk. 16:20a.]  The name Lazarus (Lazaros) is from Eleazaros “God a help.”
Saint Kyril: “The poor man is mentioned by name. What conclusion, therefore, must we
draw? That the rich man, as being uncompassionate, was nameless in God’s presence;
for He said by the psalmist: ‘Nor will I make remembrance of their names through my
lips [Ps. 15(16):3(4)].’” [Ib., 453.]
Saint Gregory the Great: “And Lazarus, who was covered with sores, whom does he
symbolize, but the Gentiles? After they turned to God they were not ashamed to
confess their sins, and so the wounds on their skin were only superficial.” [Ib.]

[Lk. 16:20b.]  The beggar Lazarus “was cast toward his gateway” (ejbevblhto pro;~ to'n
pulw`na aujtou`).
Saint Kyril: “The poor man was not so much laid as cast down, thrown there in neglect,
and not deemed worthy of any account,...cut off from compassion and care.” [Ib.]
Saint Gregory the Great: “From one incident almighty God makes two judgments: He
allowed the poor man, Lazarus, to lie at the rich man’s gate, in order that the undutiful
rich man might increase his condemnation and punishment, and that the poor man, who
was tempted, might increase his reward. The rich man looked every day on one he did
not pity; the poor man saw one who was putting him to the test.” [Ib., 377.]  

[Lk. 16:21a.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “The proud Jews disdained to admit any Gentile
to knowledge of the law. The teaching of the law was for them a source not of love but
of pride; it was as if they were bloated on the riches they had received. Words of
knowledge fell down to him like crumbs falling from the table. Sometimes in Scripture
dogs represent preachers. When a dog licks a wound it heals it. When holy teachers
give us instruction during the confession of our sins, they are touching the wounds of
our hearts with their tongues. So the psalmist says, ‘The tongue of thy dogs in that of
thine enemies [Ps. 67(68):24(23)].’” [Ib., 371, 372.]

[Lk. 16:21b.]  Saint Kyril: “They licked his wounds, and that, as it seems was not to
injure them, but rather, so to speak, as sharing in his suffering and attending him,...but
the rich man was more cruel than the beasts.” [Commentary, P.G. 72:358AB (col. 828).]

[Lk. 16:22.]  Saint Kyril: “The poor man, He says, was carried by angels to Abraham’s
bosom, but of the rich man there is nothing of the sort, but only that he died and was
buried. For those who have hope towards God find in their departure from the world a
deliverance from anguish and pain....The rich man was going from pleasure to torment,
from glory to shame, from light to darkness.” [Hom. 112, Commentary, Ch. 16, 455,
Saint Ambrose: “Lazarus was a pauper in this world, but a rich man before God....Yet
not all poverty is holy nor wealth sinful, but as excess dishonors riches, so sanctity
commends poverty.” [Ib., Bk. VIII, § 13.]

[Lk. 16:23.]  Hades is the unseen world (a privative and ijdei`n, to see, abode of the
unseen). The ancient pagans divided Hades into Elysium and Tartarus. Hades is the
Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol, the place of the departed. It is translated “hell”
in the KJV, which often leads to confusion by also using “hell” to translate Gehenna,
which refers to the place of everlasting punishment. Christ descended into Hades [Acts
Saint Ephraim the Syrian: “We know from the Gospel that there are various places of
torment. For it has been revealed to us that there is outer darkness [Mt. 8:12], and so
it follows that there is inner darkness. ‘The fire of Gehenna [Mt. 5:22]’ is another place,
the abode of ‘the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth [Mt. 25:30].' Another place
speaks of ‘where their worm dieth not [Mk. 9:44].’ We read in another place of ‘the lake
of the fire [Rev. 19:20],’ and again of Tartarus [2 Pe. 2:4], and of unquenchable fire
[Mk. 9:43]. The lower world of destruction and perdition are written of in precise terms
[Mt. 7:13; 1 Tim. 6:9]. The depths of the earth is another place....The wretched souls of
the damned are distributed throughout these places of punishment, each one according
to the nature of his sins. ‘Each one is bound in the chains of his own sins [Prov. 5:22].’
This is what is meant by the servant who is beaten much or beaten a little [Lk. 12:47,
48].” [On the Various Places of Torment and on the Judgment, Vossio, Tome I, Sermon
72, in Toal, III:302.]

[Lk. 16:24.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “The rich man, who refused to have pity on
Lazarus in this life, seeks his intercession from his state of pain....One who denied a
crumb of bread sought a drop of water....He feels the fire severely in his tongue, since
talkativeness is prevalent at banquets. What is implied is that he sinned more at his
banquets through talkativeness, and his tongue felt the just recompense of fire more
fiercely.” [Ib., 377, 378.]...“The unbelieving people keep the words of the law in their
mouths, but refuse to act on them. The burning will be greater in the place where they
manifested that they knew what to do, but that they were unwilling.” [Ib., 373.]

[Lk. 16:25a.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “Abraham calls him child. The believing
ancestors of this unbelieving people were aware that many had turned away from their
path. They were not moved by compassion to take them away from their torments, even
though they recognized them as their physical descendants.” [Ib., 374.]

[Lk. 16:25b.]  Saint Kyril: “As the sacred Scripture says, ‘For the judgment shall be
merciless to him who rendered no mercy [Jas. 2:13].’ Thou wouldest have been a
partner with Lazarus, and a portion of his consolation would have been given thee by
God, if thou hadst admitted him to be a partner of thy wealth. But this thou didst not
do, and therefore thou alone art tormented; for such is the fitting punishment of the
unmerciful, and of those whose mind feels no sympathy for the sick.” [Ib., 456.]
Saint Gregory the Great: “The fire of poverty cleansed Lazarus of his evil deeds, and the
happiness of this passing life rewarded the good deeds of the rich man. Poverty
afflicted the former and wiped him clean; wealth rewarded the latter and deprived him
of everything else.” [Ib., 379.]

[Lk. 16:26.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “Just as the condemned desire to pass over to
the elect, to leave the place where their sufferings afflict them, so it is in the hearts of
the righteous to pass over to those who are ill-treated and in torment, to go to them in
mercy, to want to set them free. But those who want to pass over from the abode of
the blessed to the ill-treated and tormented cannot do so. Although the souls of the
righteous possess mercy in the goodness of their natures, they are bound by their
Creator’s great rectitude, united with their own righteousness, so that they cannot be
moved by compassion for the condemned. They are of one mind with the Judge, to
Whom they cleave. They do not condescend out of mercy to those they cannot rescue,
because as they behold them rejected by the Creator they love, they see them far
removed from themselves. The unrighteous do not pass over to the condition of the
blessed because they are bound by an everlasting condemnation; the righteous are
unable to pass over to the condemned because they have been raised up by the
righteousness of the judgment and feel no pity for them out of compassion.” [Ib., 379,

[Lk. 16:28a.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “The proud Jewish people, who had already been
in large part condemned, knew that the successors they had left behind on earth were
given over to the five bodily senses. The rich man lamented that those he left behind
did not ascend to spiritual understanding.” [Ib., 374.]

[Lk. 16:28b.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “We should notice how much suffering is heaped
upon the rich man in the flames. Both recognition and memory are preserved for his
punishment. He recognizes Lazarus whom he had despised; he remembers his brothers
whom he left behind....So that sinners may be punished more as they suffer, they see
the glory of those they despised; and the punishment of those they loved to no avail
also torments them. We must believe that before they receive their recompense at the
final judgment, the unrighteous behold some of the righteous at rest. The righteous
also observe the unrighteous in their torments, to increase their own joy, since they
look upon the evil they have mercifully escaped. Their thankfulness to the One Who
saved them is greater....Nor does the punishment of the condemned which they see dim
the brightness of the happiness they experience. Where there is no longer any
compassion for their agony, it will surely not be able to lessen the gladness of the
blessed.” [Ib., 380, 381.]

[Lk. 16:29.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “It will be harder for those who disdained the
words of the law to fulfill the commandments of our Redeemer, Who rose from the
dead, because they are more exacting. The law prescribed the giving of a tithe [Lev. 27:
30-33], but our Redeemer ordered those who would follow the way of perfection to give
up everything [Lk. 18:22]. The law suppressed physical sins [Ex. 20:14], but our
Redeemer condemned even unlawful thoughts [Mt. 5:28].” [Ib., 381, 382.]

[Lk. 16:31.]  Saint Gregory the Great: “Abraham’s reply is fulfilled. The Lord rose from
the dead, but because the Jews were unwilling to believe Moses, they refused to
believe the One Who did rise from the dead.” [Ib., 374].