19. There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine
linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his
gate, full of sores,
21. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's
table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
BEDE; Our Lord had just before advised the making friends of the Mammon of
unrighteousness, which the Pharisees derided. He next confirms by examples
what he had set before them, saying, There was a certain rich man, &c.
CHRYS. There was, not is, because he had passed away as a fleeting shadow.
AMBROSE; But not all poverty is holy, or all riches criminal, but as luxury
disgraces riches, so does holiness commend poverty.
It follows, And be was clothed in purple and fine linen.
BEDE; Purple, the color of the royal robe, is obtained from sea shells,
which are scraped with a knife. Byssus is a kind of white and very fine
GREG. Now if the wearing of fine and precious robes were not a fault, word
of God would never have so carefully expressed this. For no one seeks costly
garments except for vainglory, that he may seem more honorable than others;
for no one wishes to be clothed with such, where he cannot be seen by
CHRYS. Ashes, dust, and earth he covered with purple, and silk; or ashes,
dust, and earth bore upon them purple and silk. As his garments were, so was
also his food. Therefore with us also as our food is, such let our clothing
be Hence it follows, And he fared sumptuously everyday.
GREG. And here we must narrowly watch ourselves, seeing that banquets can
scarcely be celebrated blamelessly, for almost always luxury accompanies
feasting; and when the body is swallowed up in the delight of refreshing
itself, the heart relaxes to empty joys.
It follows, And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus.
AMBROSE; This seems rather a narrative than a parable, since the name is
CHRYS. But a parable is that in which an example is given, while the names
are omitted. Lazarus is interpreted, "one who was assisted." For he was
poor, and the Lord helped him.
CYRIL; Or else; This discourse concerning the rich man and Lazarus was
written after the manner of a comparison in a parable, to declare that they
who abound in earthly riches, unless they will relieve the necessities of
the poor, shall meet with a heavy condemnation. But the tradition of the
Jews relates that there was at that time in Jerusalem a certain Lazarus who
was afflicted with extreme poverty and sickness, whom our Lord remembering,
introduces him into the example for the sake of adding greater point to His
GREG. We must observe also, that among the heathen the names of poor men are
more likely to be known than of rich. Now our Lord mentions the name of the
poor, but not the name of the rich, because God knows and approves the
humble, but not the proud. But that the poor man might be more approved,
poverty and sickness were at the same time consuming him; as it follows, who
was laid at his gate full of sores.
PSEUDO-CHRYS. He lay at his gate for this reason, that the rich might not
say, I never saw him, no one told me; for he saw him both going out and
returning. The poor is full of sores, that so he might set forth in his own
body the cruelty of the rich. You see the death of your body lying before
the gate, and you pity not. If you regard not the commands of God, at least
have compassion on your own state, and fear lest also you become such as he.
But sickness has some comfort if it receives help. How great then was the
punishment in that body, in which with such wounds he remembered not the
pain of his sores, but only his hunger; for it follows, desiring to be fed
with the crumbs, &c. As if he said, What you throw away from your table,
afford for alms, make your losses gain.
AMBROSE; But the insolence and pride of the wealthy is manifested afterwards
by the clearest tokens, for it follows, and no one gave to him. For so
unmindful are they of the condition of mankind, that as if placed above
nature they derive from the wretchedness of the poor an incitement to their
own pleasure, they laugh at the destitute, they mock the needy, and rob
those whom they ought to pity.
AUG. For the covetousness of the rich is insatiable, it neither fears God
nor regards man, spares not a father, keeps not its fealty to a friend,
oppresses the widow, attacks the property of a ward.
GREG. Moreover the poor man saw the rich as he went forth surrounded by
flatterers, while he himself lay in sickness and want, visited by no one.
For that no one came to visit him, the dogs witness, who fearlessly licked
his sores, for it follows, moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
PSEUDO-CHRYS. Those sores which no man deigned to wash and dress, the beasts
GREG. By one thing Almighty God displayed two judgments. He permitted
Lazarus to lie before the rich man's gate, both that the wicked rich man
might increase the vengeance of his condemnation, and the poor man by his
trials enhance his reward; the one saw daily him on whom he should show
mercy, the other that for which he might be approved.
22. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the
angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham
afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send
Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue;
for I am tormented in this flame.
25. But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your
good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and
you are tormented.
26. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so
that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass
to us, that would come from thence.
PSEUDO-CHRYS. We have heard how both fared on earth, let us see what their
condition is among the dead. That which was temporal has passed away; that
which follows is eternal. Both died; the one angels receive, the other
torments; for it is said, And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was
carried by the angels, &c. Those great sufferings are suddenly exchanged for
bliss. He is carried after all his labors, because he had fainted, or at
least that he might not tire by walking; and he was carried by angels. One
angel was not sufficient to carry the poor man, but many come, that they may
make a joyful band, each angel rejoicing to touch so great a burden. Gladly
do they thus encumber themselves, that so they may bring men to the kingdom
But he was carried into Abraham's bosom, that he might be embraced and
cherished by him; Abraham's bosom is Paradise. And the ministering angels
carried the poor man, and placed him in Abraham's bosom, because though he
lay despised, he yet despaired not nor blasphemed, saying, This rich man
living in wickedness is happy and suffers no tribulation, but I cannot get
even food to supply my wants.
AUG. Now as to your thinking Abraham's bosom to be any thing bodily, I am
afraid lest you should be thought to treat so weighty a matter rather
lightly than seriously. For you could never be guilty of such folly, as to
suppose the corporeal bosom of one man able to hold so many souls, nay, to
use your own words, so many bodies as the Angels carry thither as they did
Lazarus. But perhaps you imagine that one soul to have alone deserved to
come to that bosom. If you would not fall into a childish mistake, you must
understand Abraham's bosom to be a retired and hidden resting-place where
Abraham is; and therefore called Abraham's, not that it is his alone, but
because he is the father of many nations, and placed first, that others
might imitate his preeminence of faith.
GREG. When the two men were below on earth, that is, the poor and the rich,
there was one above who saw into their hearts, and by trials exercised the
poor man to glory, by endurance awaited the rich man to punishment. Hence it
follows, The rich man also cried.
CHRYS. He died then indeed in body, but his soul was dead before. For he did
none of the works of the soul. All that warmth which issues from the love of
our neighbor had fled, and he was more dead than his body. But no one is
spoken of as having ministered to the rich man's burial as to that of
Lazarus. Because when he lived pleasantly in the broad road, he had many
busy flatterers; when he came to his end, all forsook him. For it simply
follows, and was buried in hell. But his soul also when living was buried,
enshrined in its body as it were in a tomb.
AUG. The burial in hell is the lowest depth of torment which after this life
devours the proud and unmerciful.
PSEUDO-BASIL. Hell is a certain common place in the interior of the earth,
shaded on all sides and dark, in which there is a kind of opening stretching
downward, through which lies the descent of the souls who are condemned to
PSEUDO-CHRYS. Or as the prisons of kings are placed at a distance without,
so also hell is somewhere far off without the world, and hence it is called
the outer darkness.
THEOPHYL. But some say that hell is the passing from the visible to the
invisible, and the unfashioning of the soul. For as long as the soul of the
sinner is in the body, it is visible by means of its own operations. But
when it flies out of the body, it becomes shapeless.
CHRYS. As it made the poor man's affliction heavier while he lived to lie
before the rich man's gate, and to behold the prosperity of others, so when
the rich man was dead it added to his desolation, that he lay in hell and
saw the happiness of Lazarus, feeling not only by the nature of His own
torments, but also by the comparison of Lazarus's honor, his own punishment
the more intolerable. Hence it follows, But lifting up his eyes. He lifted
up his eyes that he might look on him, not despise him; for Lazarus was
above, he below. Many angels carried Lazarus; he was seized by endless
torments. Therefore it is not said, being in torment, but torments. For he
was wholly in torments, his eyes alone were free, so that he might behold
the joy of another. His eyes are allowed to be free that he may be the more
tortured, not having that which another has. The riches of others are the
torments of those who are in poverty.
GREG. Now if Abraham sate below, the rich man placed in torments would not
see him. For they who have followed the path to the heavenly country, when
they leave the flesh, are kept back by the gates of hell; not that
punishment smites them as sinners, but that resting in some more remote
places, (for the intercession of the Mediator was not yet come,) the guilt
of their first fault prevents them from entering the kingdom.
CHRYS. There were many poor righteous men, but he who lay at his door met
his sight to add to his woe. For it follows, And Lazarus in his bosom. It
may here be observed, that all who are offended by us are exposed to our
view. But the rich man sees Lazarus not with any other righteous man, but in
Abraham's bosom. For Abraham was full of love, but the man is convicted of
cruelty. Abraham sitting before his door followed after those that passed
by, and brought them into his house, the other turned away even them that
abode within his gate.
GREG. And this rich man forsooth, now fixed in his doom, seeks as his patron
him to whom in this life he would not show mercy.
THEOPHYL. He does not however direct his words to Lazarus, but to Abraham,
because he was perhaps ashamed, and thought Lazarus would remember his
injuries; but he judged of him from himself. Hence it follows, And he cried
PSEUDO-CHRYS. Great punishments give forth a great cry. Father Abraham. As
if he said, I call you father by nature, as the son who wasted his living,
although by my own fault I have lost you as a father. Have mercy on me. In
vain you work repentance, when there is no place for repentance; your
torments drive you to act the penitent, not the desires of your soul. He who
is in the kingdom of heaven, I know not whether he can have compassion on
him who is in hell. The Creator pities His creature. There came one
Physician who was to heal all; others could not heal. Send Lazarus. You err,
wretched man. Abraham cannot send, but he can receive. To dip the tip of his
finger in water. You would not deign to look upon Lazarus, and now you
desire his finger. What you seek now, you ought to have done to him when
alive. You are in want of water, who before despised delicate food. Mark the
conscience of the sinner; he durst not ask for the whole of the finger. We
are instructed also how good a thing it is not to trust in riches. See the
rich man in need of the poor who was before starving. Things are changed,
and it is now made known to all who was rich and who was poor. For as in the
theaters, when it grows towards evening, and the spectators depart, then
going out, and laying aside their dresses, they who seemed kings and
generals are seen as they really are, the sons of gardeners and fig-sellers.
So also when death is come, and the spectacle is over, and all the masks of
poverty and riches are put off, by their works alone are men judged, which
are truly rich, which poor, which are worthy of honor, which of dishonor.
GREG. For that rich man who would not give to the poor man even the scraps
of his table, being in hell came to beg for even the least thing. For he
sought for a drop of water, who refused to give a crumb of bread.
BASIL; But he receives a meet reward, fire and the torments of hell; the
parched tongue; for the tuneful lyre, wailing; for drink, the intense
longing for a drop; for curious or wanton spectacles, profound darkness; for
busy flattery, the undying worm. Hence it follows, That he may cool my
tongue, for I am tormented in the flame.
CHRYS. But not because he was rich was he tormented, but because he was not
GREG. We may gather from this, with what torments he will be punished who
robs another, if he is smitten with the condemnation to hell, who does not
distribute what is his own.
AMBROSE; He is tormented also because to the luxurious man it is a
punishment to be without his pleasures; water is also a refreshment to the
soul which is set fast in sorrow.
GREG. But what means it, that when in torments he desires his tongue to be
cooled, except that at his feasts having sinned in talking, now by the
justice of retribution, his tongue was in fierce flame; for talkativeness is
generally rife at the banquet.
CHRYS. His tongue too had spoken many proud things. Where the sin is, there
is the punishment; and because the tongue offended much, it is the more
CHRYS. Or, in that he wishes his tongue to be cooled, when he was altogether
burning in the flame, that is signified which is written, Death and life are
in the hands of the tongue, and with the mouth confession is made to
salvation; which from pride he did not do, but the tip of the finger means
the very least work in which a man is assisted by the Holy Spirit.
AUG. You say that the members of the soul are here described, and by the
eye you would have the whole head understood, because he was said to lift up
his eyes; by the tongue, the jaws; by the finger, the hand. But what is the
reason that those names of members when spoken of God do not to your mind
imply a body, but when of the soul they do? It is that when spoken of the
creature they are to be taken literally, but when of the Creator
metaphorically and figuratively. Will you then give us bodily wings, seeing
that not the Creator, but man, that is, the creature, says, If I take not
the wings in the morning? Besides, if the rich man had a bodily tongue,
because he said, to cool my tongue, in us also who live in the flesh, the
tongue itself has bodily hands, for it is written, Death and life are in the
hands of the tongue.
GREG. NYSS.. As the most excellent of mirrors represents an image of the
face, just such as the face itself which is opposite to it, a joyful image
of that which is joyful, a sorrowful of that which is sorrowful; so also is
the just judgment of God adapted to our dispositions. Wherefore the rich man
because he pitied not the poor as he lay at his gate, when he needs mercy
for himself, is not heard, for it follows, And Abraham said to him, Son, &c.
CHRYS. Behold the kindness of the Patriarch; he calls him son, (which may
express his tenderness,) Yet gives no aid to him who had deprived himself of
cure. Therefore he says, Remember, that is, consider the past, forget not
that you delighted in your riches, and you received good things in your
life, that is, such as you thought to be good. You could not both have
triumphed on earth, and triumph here. Riches can not be true both on earth
and below. It follows, And Lazarus likewise evil things; not that Lazarus
thought them evil, but he spoke this according to the opinion of the rich
man, who thought poverty, and hunger, and severe sickness, evils. When the
heaviness of sickness harasses us, let us think of Lazarus, and joyfully
accept evil things in this life.
AUG. All this then is said to Him because he chose the happiness of the
world, and loved no other life but that in which he proudly boasted; but he
says, Lazarus received evil things, because he knew that the perishableness
of this life, its labors, sorrows, and sickness, are the penalty of sin, for
we all die in Adam who by transgression was made liable to death.
CHRYS. He says, You received good things in your life, (as if your due;) as
though he said, If you have done any good thing for which a reward might be
due, you have received all things in that world, living luxuriously,
abounding in riches, enjoying the pleasure of prosperous undertakings; but
he if he committed any evil has received all, afflicted with poverty,
hunger, and the depths of wretchedness. And each of you came hither naked;
Lazarus indeed of sin, wherefore he receives his consolation; you of
righteous wherefore you endure your inconsolable punishment; and hence it
follows, But now he is comforted, and you are tormented.
GREG. Whatsoever then you have well in this world, when you recollect to
have done any thing good, be very fearful about it, lest the prosperity
granted you be your recompense for the same good. And when you behold poor
men doing any thing blameably, fear not, seeing that perhaps those whom the
remains of the slightest iniquity defiles, the fire of honesty cleanses.
CHRYS. But you will say, Is there no one who shall enjoy pardon, both here
and there? This is indeed a hard thing, and among those which are
impossible. For should poverty press not, ambition urges; if sickness
provoke not, anger inflames; if temptations assail not, corrupt thoughts
often overwhelm. It is no slight toil to bridle anger, to check unlawful
desires, to subdue the swellings of vain-glory, to quell pride or
haughtiness, to lead a severe life. He that does not these things, can not
GREG. It may also be answered, that evil men receive in this life good
things, because they place their whole joy in transitory happiness, but the
righteous may indeed have good things here, yet not receive them for reward,
because while they seek better things, that is, eternal, in their judgment
whatever good things are present seem by no means good.
CHRYS. But after the mercy of God, we must seek in our own endeavors for
hope of salvation, not in numbering fathers, or relations, or friends. For
brother does not deliver brother; and therefore it is added, And beside all
this between us and you there is a great gulf fixed.
THEOPHYL. The great gulf signifies the distance of the righteous from
sinners. For as their affections were different, so also their abiding
places do not slightly differ.
CHRYS. The gulf is said to be fixed, because it cannot be loosened, moved,
AMBROSE; Between the rich and the poor then there is a great gulf, because
after death rewards cannot be changed. Hence it follows, So that they who
would pass from hence to you cannot, nor come thence to us.
CHRYS. As if he says, We can see, we cannot pass; and we see what we have
escaped, you what you have lost; our joys enhance your torments, your
torments our joys.
GREG. For as the wicked desire to pass over to the elect, that is, to depart
from the pangs of their sufferings, so to the afflicted and tormented would
the just pass in their mind by compassion, and wish to set them free. But
the souls of the just, although in the goodness of their nature they feel
compassion, after being united to the righteousness of their Author, are
constrained by such great uprightness as not to be moved with compassion
towards the reprobate. Neither then do the unrighteous pass over to the lot
of the blessed, because they are bound in everlasting condemnation, nor can
the righteous pass to the reprobate, because being now made upright by the
righteousness of judgment, they in no way pity them from any compassion.
THEOPHYL. You may from this derive an argument against the followers of
Origen, who say, that since an end is to be placed to punishments, there
will be a time when sinners shall be gathered to the righteous and to God.
AUG. For it is shown by the unchangeableness of the Divine sentence, that no
aid of mercy can be rendered to men by the righteous, even though they
should wish to give it; by which he reminds us, that in this life men should
relieve those they can, since hereafter even if they be well received, they
would not be able to give help to those they love. For that which was
written, that they may receive you into everlasting habitations, was not
said of the proud and unmerciful, but of those who have made to themselves
friends by their works of mercy, whom the righteous receive, not as if by
their own power benefiting them, but by Divine permission.
27. Then he said, I pray you therefore, father, that you would send him
to my father's house:
28. For I have five brethren; that he may testify to them, lest they also
come into this place of torment.
29. Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear
30. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead,
they will repent.
31. And he said to him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither
will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
GREG. When the rich man in flames found that all hope was taken away
from him, his mind turns to those relations whom he had left behind, as it
is said, Then said he, I pray you therefore, father Abraham, to send him to
my father's house.
AUG. He asks that Lazarus should be sent, because he felt himself unworthy
to offer testimony to the truth. And as he had not obtained even to be
cooled for a little while, much less does he expect to be set free from hell
for the preaching of the truth.
CHRYS. Now mark his perverseness; not even in the midst of his torments does
he keep to truth. If Abraham is your father, how say you, Send him to your
father's house? But you have not forgotten your father, for he has been your
GREG. The hearts of the wicked are sometimes by their own punishment taught
the exercise of charity, but in vain; so that they indeed have an especial
love to their own, who while attached to their sins did not love themselves.
Hence it follows, For I have five brethren, that he may testify to them,
lest they also come into this place of torment.
AMBROSE; But it is too late for the rich man to begin to be master, when he
has no longer time for learning or teaching.
GREG. And here we must remark what fearful sufferings are heaped upon the
rich man in flames. For in addition to his punishment, his knowledge and
memory are preserved. He knew Lazarus whom he despised, he remembered his
brethren whom he left. For that sinners in punishment may be still more
punished, they both see the glory of those whom they had despised, and are
harassed about the punishment of those whom they have unprofitably loved.
But to the rich man seeking Lazarus to be sent to them, Abraham immediately
answers, as follows, Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets,
let them hear them.
CHRYS. As if he said, your brethren are not so much your care as God's, who
created them, and appointed them teachers to admonish and urge them. But by
Moses and the Prophets, he here means the Mosaic and prophetic writings.
AMBROSE; In this place our Lord most plainly declares the Old Testament to
be the ground of faith, thwarting the treachery of the Jews, and precluding
the iniquity of Heretics.
GREG. But he who had despised the words of God, supposed that his followers
could not hear them. Hence it is added, And he said, Nay, father Abraham,
but if one went to them from the dead they would repent. For when he heard
the Scriptures he despised them, and thought them fables, and therefore
according to what he felt himself, he judged the like of his brethren.
GREG. NYSS.. But we are also taught something besides, that the soul of
Lazarus is neither anxious about present things, nor looks back to aught
that it has left behind, but the rich man, (as it were caught by birdlime,)
even after death is held down by his carnal life. For a man who becomes
altogether carnal in his heart, not even after he has put off his body is
out of the reach of his passions.
GREG. But soon the rich man is answered in the words of truth; for it
follows, And he said to him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets,
neither will they believe though one rose from the dead. For they who
despise the words of the Law, will find the commands of their Redeemer who
rose from the dead, as they are more sublime, so much the more difficult to
CHRYS. But that it is true that he who hears not the Scriptures, takes no
heed to the dead who rise again, the Jews have testified, who at one time
indeed wished to kill Lazarus, but at another laid hands upon the Apostles,
notwithstanding that some had risen from the dead at the hour of the Cross.
Observe this also, that every dead man is a servant, but whatever the
Scriptures say, the Lord says. Therefore let it be that dead men should rise
again, and an angel descend from heaven, the Scriptures are more worthy of
credit than all. For the Lord of Angels, the Lord as well of the living and
the dead, is their author. But if God knew this that the dead rising again,
profited the living, He would not have omitted it, seeing that He disposes
all things for our advantage. Again, if the dead were often to rise again,
this too would in time be disregarded. And the devil also would easily
insinuate perverse doctrines, devising resurrection also by means of his own
instruments, not indeed really raising up the deceased, but by certain
delusions deceiving the sight of the beholders, or contriving, that is,
setting up some to pretend death.
AUG. But some one may say, If the dead have no care for the living, how did
the rich man ask Abraham, that he should send Lazarus to his five brethren?
But because he said this, did the rich man therefore know what his brethren
were doing, or what was their condition at that time? His care about the
living was such that he might yet be altogether ignorant what they were
doing, just as we care about the dead, although we know nothing of what they
do. But again the question occurs, How did Abraham know that Moses and the
prophets are here in their books? Whence also had he known that the rich man
had lived in luxury, but Lazarus in affliction. Not surely when these things
were going on in their lifetime, but at their death he might know through
Lazarus' telling him, that in order that might not be false which the
prophet says; Abraham heard us not. The dead might also hear something from
the angels who are ever present at the things which are done here. They
might also know some things which it was necessary for them to have known,
not only past, but also future, through the revelation of the Church of God.
AUG. But these things may be so taken in allegory, that by the rich man we
understand the proud Jews ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going
about to establish their own. The purple and fine linen are the grandeur of
the kingdom. And the kingdom of God (he says) shall be taken away from you.
The sumptuous feasting is the boasting of the Law, in which they gloried,
rather abusing it to swell their pride, than using it as the necessary means
of salvation. But the beggar, by name Lazarus, which is interpreted
"assisted," signifies want; as, for instance, some Gentile, or Publican, who
is all the more relieved, as he presumes less on the abundance of his
GREG. Lazarus then full of sores, figuratively represents the Gentile
people, who when turned to God, were not ashamed to confess their sins.
Their wound was in the skin. For what is confession of sins but a certain
bursting forth of wounds. But Lazarus, full of wounds, desired to be fed by
the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, and no one gave to him;
because that proud people disdained to admit any Gentile to the knowledge of
the Law, and words flowed down to him from knowledge, as the crumbs fell
from the table.
AUG. But the dogs which licked the poor man's sores are those most wicked
men who loved sin, who with a large tongue cease not to praise the evil
works, which another loathes, groaning in himself, and confessing.
GREG. Sometimes also in the holy Word by dogs are understood preachers;
according to that, That the tongue of your dogs may be red by the very blood
of your enemies; for the tongue of dogs while it licks the wound heals it;
for holy teachers, when they instruct us in confession of sin, touch as it
were by the tongue the soul's wound. The rich man was buried in hell, but
Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom, that is, into that
secret rest of which the truth says, Many shall come from the east and the
west, and shall lie down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of
heaven, but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness.
But being afar off, the rich man lifted up his eyes to behold Lazarus,
because the unbelievers while they suffer the sentence of their
condemnation, lying in the deep, fix their eyes upon certain of the
faithful, abiding before the day of the last Judgment in rest above them,
whose bliss afterwards they would in no wise contemplate. But that which
they behold is afar off, for thither they cannot attain by their merits. But
he is described to burn chiefly in his tongue, because the unbelieving
people held in their mouth the word of the Law, which in their deeds they
despised to keep. In that part then a man will have most burning wherein he
most of all shows he knew that which he refused to do. Now Abraham calls him
his son, whom at the same time he delivers not from torments; because the
fathers of this unbelieving people, observing that many have gone aside from
their faith, are not moved with any compassion to rescue them from torments,
whom nevertheless they recognize as sons.
AUG. By the five brothers whom he says he has in his father's house, he
means the Jews who were called five, because they were bound under the Law,
which was given by Moses who wrote five books.
CHRYS. Or he had five brothers, that is, the five senses, to which he was
before a slave, and therefore he could not love Lazarus because his brethren
loved not poverty. Those brethren have sent you into these torments, they
cannot be saved unless they die; otherwise it must needs be that the
brethren dwell with their brother. But why seek you that I should send
Lazarus? They have Moses and the Prophets. Moses was the poor Lazarus who
counted the poverty of Christ greater than the riches of Pharaoh. Jeremiah,
cast into the dungeon, was fed on the bread of affliction; and all the
prophets teach those brethren. But those brethren cannot be saved unless
some one rise from the dead. For those brethren, before Christ was risen,
brought me to death; He is dead, but those brethren have risen again. For my
eye sees Christ, my ear hears Him, my hands handle Him. From what we have
said then, we determine the fit place for Marcion and Manichaeus, who
destroy the Old Testament. See what Abraham says, If they hear not Moses and
the prophets. As though he said, you do well by expecting Him who is to rise
again; but in them Christ speaks. If you will hear them, you will hear Him
GREG. But the Jewish people, because they disdained to spiritually
understand the words of Moses, did not come to Him of whom Moses had spoken.
AMBROSE; Or else, Lazarus is poor in this world, but rich to God; for not
all poverty is holy, nor all riches vile, but as luxury disgraces riches, so
holiness commends poverty. Or is there any Apostolical man, poor in speech,
but rich in faith, who keeps the true faith, requiring not the appendage of
words. To such a one I liken him who ofttimes beaten by the Jews offered the
wounds of his body to be licked as it were by certain dogs. Blessed dogs, to
whom the dropping from such wounds so falls as to fill the heart and mouth
of those whose office it is to guard the house, preserve the flock, keep off
the wolf ! And because the word is bread, our faith is of the word; the
crumbs are as it were certain doctrines of the faith, that is to say, the
mysteries of the Scriptures. But the Arians, who court the alliance of regal
power that they may assail the truth of the Church, do not they seem to you
to be in purple and fine linen? And these, when they defend the counterfeit
instead of the truth, abound in flowing discourses. Rich heresy has composed
many Gospels, and poor faith has kept this single Gospel, which it had
received. Rich philosophy has made itself many gods, the poor Church has
known only one. Do not those riches seem to you to be poor, and that poverty
to be rich?
AUG. Again also that story may be so understood, as that we should take
Lazarus to mean our Lord; lying at the gate of the rich man, because he
condescended to the proud ears of the Jews in the lowliness of His
incarnation; desiring to be fed from the crumbs which fell from the rich
man's table, that is, seeking from them even the least works of
righteousness, which through pride they would not use for their own table,
(that is, their own power,) which works, although very slight and without
the discipline of perseverance in a good life, sometimes at least they might
do by chance, as crumbs frequently fall from the table. The wounds are the
sufferings of our Lord, the dogs who licked them are the Gentiles, whom the
Jews called unclean, and yet, with the sweetest odor of devotion, they lick
the sufferings of our Lord in the Sacraments of His Body and Blood
throughout the whole world. Abraham's bosom is understood to be the hiding
place of the Father, whither after His Passion our Lord rising again was
taken up, whither He was said to be carried by the angels, as it seems to
me, because that reception by which Christ reached the Father's secret place
the angels announced to the disciples. The rest may be taken according to
the former explanation, because that is well understood to be the Father's
secret place, where even before the resurrection the souls of the righteous
live with God.