This is definitely not going to be my sermon, lest anyone become alarmed. Just stuff that bubbled up tonight as I opened myself up to Luke 16:14-31. I will continue this, in any case, so stay tuned. . .
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, lived a poor man, his body covered with weeping sores—really gross ones, with pus and blood running over his body. He didn’t even have to pick at them. He had to beg for food, and live in the streets; he had no family or friends to care for him. Some how he ended up at the gates of a rich man’s house—thrown there perhaps by those who had no further use for him; after all, he was no longer a useful member of society. No one wanted to be near him because the pus and the blood were, as has been already noted, really gross. Can you imagine the smell? That sickly sweet odor of illness, of a body wasting away. All gave him a wide berth. Except for the dogs—they came to lick his sores. Why? I’ve heard that some church fathers preach that the dogs were being kind—their tongues washing him, baptizing him with their balm, removing the burden of blood and pus. Cleanliness is next to dogliness, you know. And you know what “doG” spelled backward is.
Some newer scholars say, “are you kidding?” Those dogs weren’t being kind—these were no lapdogs, no teacup poodles, no well-meaning Lady and The Tramp dogs caring for a human because no other human cares. These were the mean streets of the city dogs—fierce, looking out only for themselves, fighting over scraps, rat-catchers. As soon as the man dies, they’d be tearing his flesh to feed themselves—just licking that pus and blood for their own sustenance. Savoring that sickly sweet flavor just as much as they savor a roll in the mud. No kindness—it’s a dog eat dog world in this far away kingdom.
Now the poor man, in the swirl of dogs, his name is Eliezar, though it’s easier for us to say Lazarus. But don’t think of that other dead man whose name is the same. Different story—no dogs. Lazarus raises his weak voice over and above the yapping and yipping and growling of the dogs—they’re such talkers. He calls to the rich man, who’s sitting, feasting, relishing his wealth. “Sir, sir, please. Might you spare some food? Might you share some cool water? Surely you have a cracked cup to give, that way my uncleanness won’t become yours.”