The coming home story-lesson (parable) was used as a corrective to the Pharisees, lovers of money, who had just scoffed at Jesus of Nazareth when he told a lesson on fiscal prudence mingled with mercy and loving God rather than money. Pharisees were known legalists, following the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. They also believed in the resurrection of the dead.

Luke 16: 19-31

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. v.25

The man with a life clothed in purple and fine linen, ate sumptuously every day, and neglected helping Lazarus who laid at his gate full of sores licked by the dogs. Once in death he found himself in a place of torment (hell) and wanted Lazarus to leave the solace of heaven to cool his burning tongue. He found out that there is an impassible divide between heaven and hell.

Further into the story Abraham said to the rich man, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” This last phrase addressed the Pharisees since raising from the dead was a big deal for them. Jesus told them that such a phenomenon would be a useless sign for they are stubborn.

Recalling the prodigal son, we see a great relationship divide between the elder son and the restored son as great as the divide between heaven and hell itself. Heaven is about restored relationships and not about who has what nor about who ranks what.

Luke used the Greek words for repenting (metanoeo) and turning (epistrepho) eighteen times.

I have come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32.

This is the turning away from, and the turning away to. It is not melancholy self-obsessive guilt over all our mistakes. We are simply asked to come home. The gratefulness is that much greater for the one who realized what might have been if one had not come to his or her senses.

May God deliver us from an adversarial spirit and the drive to go our own way. Amen