There is nothing in this parable that indicates the rich man went to hell simply because he was rich. He went to hell not because he was rich, but because he passed by Lazarus every day and never really saw him. He went to hell because he allowed Lazarus to become invisible, because he failed to use his wealth to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus. The rich man’s egocentric obliviousness prevented him from recognizing and realizing that Lazarus was his brother; his indifference was the cause of the chasm.
As Methodist theologian and preacher Will Willimon, said about the chasm: “If we don’t reach out, reach across, give a hand up, or there will be hell to pay.”
—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. serves John Carroll University, University Heights, OH, as professor education. He is also the Rector of the Jesuit community there.