We heard today from Luke 16:21, which says “Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.” Admittedly, the grammatical construction in the Greek can be translated as “worst of all” dogs would lick his sores.
However, the ancients knew when a dog licks a person’s sores or wounds, healing occurs more rapidly. At the Ashkelon dog cemetery in Israel, over a thousand dogs are buried in individual plots that dates back from the fifth to the third centuries BC. The dogs were trained to lick the wounds or sores of humans, in exchange for a fee.
So in Luke 16:21, where it says that dogs licked the wounds of Lazarus, this is the biblical basis for therapy dogs, as Father Peter John Cameron, O.P. says.
Yet Lazarus was a man with unfulfilled desires “longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table. When he died, he was left unburied. Lazarus did not even have a decent burial by human beings, which is what “carried away by angels” means. One scholar, McGee notes: “When the beggar died, there was no funeral. They just took his body out and threw it into the Valley of Gehenna where garbage was dumped and burned, or maybe his body was dumped into a pauper’s grave.
The bosom of Abraham in Luke 16:22 is literally described as a pocket-like fold in a garment; gathered up by an affectionate parent, as it were.
By God’s grace, the poor may enter heaven in virtue of their poverty, and the rich by sharing their wealth, all by God’s grace. Saint John Paul II connected the rich man as rich countries that
drain most of the world’s energy and raw materials that are meant to serve the whole of humanity, saying that the solution is fair trade and solidarity between peoples.
No one is condemned in the Bible for simply being wealthy, only those who did not share and help others. After all, Saint Augustine noted centuries ago that Lazarus was welcomed into paradise by Abraham, who was one of the richest people on earth when Abraham lived in the world.
The rich said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment’ and Abraham replied that ‘They have Moses and the prophets’ to warn them.
Someone has said that this is the only prayer in the Bible addressed to a saint that was not answered.
Then, the rich man said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ The rich man was implying that the Scriptures are a distant and irrelevant book for the five brothers, and the rich man’s request for a sign instead is an evasion and an expression of impenitence or a lack of repentance and contrition.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.
The damned sinned through the five senses, therefore they suffer through all five of the senses. The punishment in Hell is in proportion to the guilt. The Worst Suffering in Hell is the sense of loss of God and heaven.
The Gospel of grace is listening to Moses and the prophets which we do at every Mass in the First Reading. The point of the parable is for us to share our wealth, moved by grace. Faith without works is dead.