The context is always Important!
Luke writes about the events in Chapters 15 to 17 as if they happened on a journey to Jerusalem where “they” will do to this Prophet what “they” have been doing to all the Prophets. In fact, Jesus and the disciples were journeying to Jerusalem.
On the way Jesus engages with crowds, opponents and disciples. Go back again and see the different scenarios over the past few weeks. Whilst not mentioned in today’s excerpt, Chapter 16 begins with the statement “they (Pharisees) heard these things and mocked him”!
So once again the theme of rejection of the Prophet by the religious leaders is exposed, along with Jesus’ response suggesting, as well, their own rejection by God.
In yet another illustration of the call to the Kingdom and the allure of the gifts of the world, we have the rich man and the poor man, a timeless tale, readily adaptable in our own time. Take the reported instance of the person occupying the high office in our land who can afford to drink water with his wine, even when the wine is Grange! Many a person, even today in Australia, would, in Gospel terms, “long to be filled with what falls from that table.”
Appropriate almsgiving could have saved the rich man then. For he would be listening to the word of God via the Prophets. Rejection of that word meant rejection for him and his family. Yes, life is full of good things; for some, food and drink; for others like Lazarus, it is the freedom in God from misery and suffering, which we can do something about as a world people…even in Syria. Our question, maybe, is where do we find goodness and how do we share that with others?
The final alert is in the last sentence and is still valid today. St Paul said “if Christ be not risen then our faith be in vain”. But Christ is risen. As then so today: “They will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”