The rich man in today's gospel, even within the fires of hell, continues to see poor Lazarus as a mere slave to his personal desires. This is precisely the hell on earth which we find ourselves in! No matter how much we preach the 'dignity of the human person,' some people will continue to use other people's heads as stepping stones to personal gratification and glory.
This perennial stain on the canvas of human history raises obvious questions.
How can a person be so cruel one minute, and so kind the next? How can the people of this world extend charity to the poor in such magnanimous numbers, while simultaneously exhibiting such malicious destruction toward their brethren? How can the human person, at times, witness to being the pinnacle of God's Creation, made in His Image and Likeness, yet, at other times, live like the devil himself?
The answer is found in the Mystery of the human heart.
"More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds." Jeremiah 17:5-10
We image that we understand ourselves, and we preach philosophically that to 'know thyself' is the beginning of attaining human wisdom. Well, human wisdom has gotten us into the predicament we currently suffer within--a predicament which is the same as the Garden of Eden situation!
Truth be told. Only God is fit to judge the human heart.
"Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night." Psalm 1:1-4, 6
There can only be one human heart, but there are always two heartstrings to pull.
The devilish man, or woman, seeks the gospel of prosperity, and the christ of personal gain. Without the cross, this disciple seeks comfort and power, pleasure and social acceptance. Whether they believe it or not, whether they are 'Catholic' or 'Christian,' they are disciples of the world and minions of the devil. For, when push comes to shove, they will fulfill the will of their father, 'the father of lies,' in creating a kingdom of death, a society enslaved to popular pleasures, and a caste system where only the socially acceptable rise to the top.
The angelic man, or woman, though tempted strongly to join the crowd, accepts the Cross of Christ and marches forward in Love.
"And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,for I am suffering torment in these flames.’Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.'" Luke 16:19-31
The One Good Man, Jesus Christ, had a penetrating gaze.
Jesus saw beyond personal appearances into the very heart of the person. That may be why he picked his apostles from a bunch of country hicks, fishermen, zealots, and tax collectors--no philosophers, politicians, or entertainers in the bunch. For the human heart, in its fallen state, seems to gravitate toward what promises to bring immediate gratification, and, simultaneously, shuns what may cause discomfort. Caesars and Queens and shiny golden objects, those tied to power and fame and fortune, attract the worldly heart willing to do anything to attain a 'piece of the pie.'
Yet, Jesus, from His humble Nazarene appearance, hanging upon the splintery Cross, seeks the human heart in the Mystery of the glorious discomfort of personal death: dying to immediate gratification, while Rising to the beauty of greater realities in compassion, Mercy, charity, and solidarity with the suffering poor.
This can only be understood, and realized, in contemplation of Jesus, suffering on His Cross, in these words: 'I thirst.'