Homily of St Gregory on Luke 16:19-31
What, dearly beloved brethren, what is to be understood by this rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and feasted sumptuously every day, if not the Jewish nation who kept the observances of religion in their outward life, who used refinements in the law they had received for their own magnificence, and not for their true [spiritual] advantage? What, again, is to be understood as expressed by Lazarus, the man full of sores, if not the Gentile people? For they, as soon as they were converted to God, were not ashamed to confess their sins, from which the sores were in their skin. Indeed, it is through such wounds in the skin that poison is drawn out from the inward parts, and outwardly breaks forth.
My sores are purified and corrupted because of my foolishness (Psalm 37 :6)
What then is the confession of sins but the breaking out, as it were, of sores? For in confession, the poison of sin is laid wholesomely open, which before lurked balefully in the mind. Indeed, through wounds in the skin, the corrupt humour [body fluid] is drawn to the surface. And in the confession of sins, what else do we but expose the evil that lay hidden within us? But Lazarus, full of sores, desired to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, and no one gave him them; for this proud people did not deign to admit any of the Gentiles to the knowledge of the law.
Often, in Holy Scripture, dogs symbolise preachers
The teaching of the law inclined them not to love, but to pride, as though they swelled with importance at the thought of the treasure they had received; and the words they let fall from their knowledge were like crumbs dropping from the table. But, on the other hand, the dogs licked the sores of the poor man as he lay there. Often, in Holy Scripture, dogs are to be understood as preachers. Now dogs heal wounds by licking them with their tongues: even so, holy teachers, when they instruct us in the confessing of our sins, do, as it were, touch the wounds of our souls with their tongues.
V. God has given his angels charge over you. R. That they guard you in all your ways.
Son, remember * that you in your lifetime received good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things.
Grant, we beseech you, O Lord, the help of your grace, that, being intent, as we ought, upon fasting and prayer, we may be delivered from the enemies of soul and body. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964