The Rich Man and the Poor Lazarus,
Painted by Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629),
Painted in 1625,
Oil on canvas,
© Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Netherlands

The Rich Man and the Poor Lazarus,
Painted by Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629),
Painted in 1625,
Oil on canvas,
© Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Netherlands

Gospel of 29 February 2024

And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them.” “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”’

Reflection on the painting

Hendrick Jansz ter Brugghen was a Dutch painter of genre scenes and religious subjects. He was one of the main members of the group of Dutch followers of Caravaggio – the so-called Utrecht Caravaggisti. Caravaggio's influence is clearly visible in the use of strong 'chiaroscuro' (dark/light) for the figures. Also Caravaggio used everyday people that he would literally take from the street and ask to sit for him as models;  he then painted them realistically, just as they were. Our painting shows these same realistic and highly personal characteristics of the figures.

The main protagonist, who is lit in the foreground, is Lazarus. He is the central character of our story today. He is begging one of the master's servants to give him some food. He's had enough of just living off the crumbs from the table. The dogs are licking his wounds. The left dog is staring at us. They are hunting dogs, as would befit a wealthy man, and the painter appears to have taken delight in rendering the animals’ well-brushed, spotted fur.

The scene is set like a theatrical stage. At the back, the rich man is entertaining a guest. He is dressed in a silk tunic, dyed with expensive purple in accordance with the story, and his table is covered in fine linen and bears a still life consisting of a large fish on a metal dish, a plate with juicy green olives, a bread roll, a small carafe, and two more pewter plates. The rich man holds a wine-filled flute glass while instructing an approaching maid.

On the far right, a lavishly dressed man-servant wearing  a feathered cap is trying to move the ungainly beggar away from his master’s doorstep. The servant is not mentioned in the parable, but is often included in visual representations to accentuate the rich man’s dismissive attitude toward the poor.

Martin Luther King preached on this parable in 1968, a few weeks before his assassination. Dr. King said:

"… Because our expressways carry us from the ghetto, we don't see the poor. … Jesus told a parable one day, and he reminded us that a man went to hell because he didn't see the poor. His name was Dives. He was a rich man. And there was a man by the name of Lazarus who was a poor man, but not only was he poor, he was sick. Sores were all over his body, and he was so weak that he could hardly move. But he managed to get to the gate of Dives every day, wanting just to have the crumbs that would fall from his table. And Dives did nothing about it. And the parable ends saying, 'Dives went to hell, and there was a fixed gulf now between Lazarus and Dives.'

There is nothing in that parable that said Dives went to hell because he was rich. Jesus never made a universal indictment against all wealth. …  Dives didn't realise that his wealth was his opportunity. It was his opportunity to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus. Dives went to hell because he passed by Lazarus every day and he never really saw him. He went to hell not because he was rich, but because he allowed his brother to become invisible…"

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Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago

Thank you Father for your reflection and I love this part of the amazing quote…..”He went to hell not because he was rich, but because he allowed his brother to become invisible…”

RIP Aaron Bushnell……I disagree with self-immolation…….but I think I may understand why you did it….we are neglecting the cries of Gaza!
THE PEOPLE OF GAZA SHOULD NOT BE INVISIBLE! WE MUST HEAR THEIR CRIES!
May we all pay attention and become aware of our brothers…EVEN THE IGNORED IN GAZA!
Aaron Bushnell may have had severe mental issues, but he was a man of courage……and I want to think his death did have meaning!
I will think of Aaron and when i do, I will think of those he cared about…..the invisible men and invisible women of this time in 2024.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jamie Cardinal
Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

What are you talking about in your second para?

Nik
Member
Nik
1 month ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Aaron Bushnell
🙏

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Aaron Bushnell, was a 25-year-old serviceman of the United States Air Force…..He committed an act of self-immolation outside the front gate of the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. a few days ago.
He was repulsed at the genocide and ethnic cleansing that was happening in Gaza that was being committed by Israel……..and he was repulsed at American complicity which was allowing Israel to commit war crimes.
Many in America …..including the government and mainstream media……are covering-up and/or ignoring what is happening in Gaza.
Children, women, the elderly……poets, and doctors, educators, artists, nurses, everyone is being targeted and killed by Israeli military.
Collective punishment is a war crime and Israel does not care……….Israel thinks they are untouchable and they think they can commit
any crime , ANY CRIME!!!……….Israeli military goes into Gaza hospitals and shoots patients in their beds as they sleep…….one patient was in a coma in hospital and Israelis shot him……This can all be proven, for there is actual footage of these horrors!…
the Geneva Convention is laughed at by Israel and America……..torture is used, disease is deliberately spread…….
israelis are acting like sociopaths………

Israel is telling the world that the Palestinians have NO defenders and ARE INVISIBLE….

AARON BUSHNELL WANTED TO SPOTLIGHT THE ISRAELI WAR CRIMES AND GENOCIDE.

Our Lord taught us parables so we can learn….Our Lord wants us to educate ourselves to be better people……..I think Father’s art selections and reflections on them and his quoting of MLK, Jr. are meant to educate us also……
I think we should apply the lessons we learn from the Gospel and from Father’s art and reflections to our life and to the world…….We must stop viewing people as invisible …… I hope you can see and understand…..we must all see and observe and understand and act accordingly to our consciences.

I am very upset at my country…..and England ……..we are allowing our governments to do things which will have horrific consequences for the entire century……GOD HELP US.

i am surprised the English media did not report on Aaron Bushnell.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

What else is it possible to say, dear Jamie?. I propose this prayer

Dear Father of heaven,
That you created us out of love
and you await us behind every small and great event: in Christ,
United to all our brothers who are suffering the war today and feeling “wrapped” in the mantle of our Mother, Mary, we open our hands to welcome your peace.

Have mercy on those who have died in so many attacks and on their loved ones, on the wounded, on those who have killed someone and on all the people who are distressed by the violence.

We pray you, Almighty God: stop the war and the weapons, give us your peace. Grant us the humility to recognize our smallness and the wisdom to welcome your love and your salvation, which passes through the cross and atonement.

Disperse the true enemies, who sow violence, lies and hatred in hearts and send us your Holy Spirit, who awakens mercy, compassion and forgiveness and makes us able to unite as brothers for your glory.

I am entirely at your disposal so that you can bring peace to the world also through me. Join You, with what I feel and what I think, with all that I am. Accept now my efforts and sacrifices to empty me of my selfish interests, fill my heart with your love and express it in my eyes, my words, my actions, my life.

May he thus collaborate in the extension of justice and love, may he help you to prepare reconciliation and open the world to your eternal riches.

Amen.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago
Reply to  Elvira

Elvira you are kind and sweet……..but we must do more than pray.
I am tired of only praying! GOD WANTS US TO ACT. We must do something!
Maybe the Pope can do something?

Elvira
Member
Elvira
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

I believe that the Pope is doing what he can, he constantly condemns war in his statements: “Indiscriminately attacking” civilians is a war crime because it violates international humanitarian law”.
I write in quotation marks his statements in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
“The Oslo agreements were very clear with the two-State solution. Until that agreement is implemented, real peace will remain distant”
“Conflict can make tensions and violence on the planet even worse”.

Francis, however, is moderately optimistic about meetings taking place behind the scenes to reach an agreement between the parties.
“A truce would already be a good result”

When asked what the Holy See is doing in this phase of the conflict, he said that Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, is a key figure in the Vatican’s efforts in the area.
“He is magnificent. He is making good moves. He is trying to mediate with determination”

The pope says that Christians and the people of Gaza, not Hamas, have the right to live in peace and that their other priority is the return of Israeli hostages held in the enclave.
He said he makes daily video calls with the Christian parish in Gaza, which houses some 600 people.
“We see each other through Zoom, I talk to people. They go on with their lives every day while facing death”.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago
Reply to  Elvira

Many thanks for this information, Elvira, helpful to know what Pope Francis is doing. You must have done quite a bit of research.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Elvira

This is what I understand too Elvira.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

I think you need to read different newspapers or something

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

The UK media did cover it but not in any detail.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

You have to be realistic about Gaza. The Russians shell cities in Ukraine and three or four people die. Apparently according to Hamas 30,000 have died.
Gaza could be stopped instantly Hamas can release the hostages (probably most are dead), and clear out , but they don’t want to do that , they are like Hitler in Berlin everyone has to die before they relent.
I’m ambivalent I don’t take sides but let’s not be fooled. Stop watching Al Jazeera for a start. Neither side is right, but don’t get too sentimental about Hamas propaganda.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Maybe Doubting “Thimas” (sic) should stop being such a hardegat and broaden his horizons and stop reading Israeli zealot propaganda.

Paul Foster
Member
Paul Foster
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

It’s easy to take sides in a complex situation with often biased reporting
It’s more difficult to open ourselves to the power of prayer and hand it over to our Lord

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

I agree with you Thimas.

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