PASSAGE: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:19-31).
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this? Jesus talks about Abraham’s bosom and the burning fire of Hades. How do Unity members interpret this? Also, I am curious about the second coming of Jesus Christ.
COMMENT: The story of Lazarus and the wealthy man is a parable—a story shaped for the consciousness of those to whom Jesus was speaking. Its purpose is to teach a spiritual truth in terms they would be sure to understand. In this case, the truth is that choices have consequences. The contrasted elements of Hades and Abraham’s bosom are metaphysical representations of how our present choices can express in our lives. We’re not told a lot about either character, but it’s clear that the rich man’s issue is not that he’s rich, but that he is selfish, either blind to or unconcerned with the suffering of others. The consequences of his negative choices will be the painful consciousness represented by the torments of Hades. Similarly, Lazarus rests in Abraham’s bosom—symbolic of the new consciousness Jesus describes as the kingdom of heaven—not as a reward for his earthly suffering, but as the inevitable consequence of his earthly choice to remain focused, not on his lack and need, but on his eternal Oneness with the Power of God. The consequences of our choices cannot be dissolved until (and unless) we experience the negativity and make new, loving choices as a result. And our choices can’t be forced or dictated—it is always up to us to recognize the good and choose to align ourselves with its energy.
As for the second coming, we understand it to be the metaphysical second coming of the Christ—not the literal second coming of Jesus. The Christ comes again when we believe in the teachings of Jesus, follow his example, and allow Christ awareness to be born in us.