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The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

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Lesson Overview

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In this week鈥檚 Gospel passage, Jesus tells a parable of a rich man and a poor man. Upon death, the rich man finds himself in Hell because he refused to show mercy to the poor man. This parable provides a powerful lesson to us all about loving our neighbor. In this lesson, students will brainstorm ways they can show mercy and love to their neighbor and reflect upon the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Lesson Materials


A. Have students read the Gospel passage, or read it aloud to your students, and then answer the focus questions. You may have students answer them on their own or you may discuss them together as a class.

B. Use the teacher instructions below for the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy Activity to conduct a class discussion about the Works of Mercy.

C. Have your students choose three of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and in the space provided on the Works of Mercy handout, have them list at least two practical ways they can put them into action.

D. When students have finished, call on students to share their answers. Connect their responses to the original class discussion.

Answer Key

Focus Questions

  1. The rich man dresses in the finest clothes and 鈥渄ines sumptuously鈥 each day. Lazarus is a poor man who lies at the rich man鈥檚 door. He is covered in sores and has no food. Even the dogs come and lick his sores.
  2. 聽Lazarus dies and he goes 鈥渢o the bosom of Abraham鈥 (or Heaven).
  3. The rich man dies and he goes to 鈥渢he netherworld鈥 (or Hell) where he is tormented.
  4. To have pity and send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool his tongue.
  5. He tells the rich man that he received what was good during his lifetime while Lazarus received what was bad. Therefore, Lazarus is now comforted while the rich man is now tormented.
  6. To send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them so that they do not come to the 鈥減lace of torment.鈥 Abraham tells him that they already have Moses and the prophets to listen to.
  7. He says, 鈥溾f someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.鈥 Abraham responds by telling the rich man that if his brothers have not listened to Moses and the prophets, then they will not be persuaded by someone rising from the dead.

Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy Activity (Teacher Instructions)

A. Explain to your students that after he died, the rich man went 鈥渢he netherworld鈥 or Hell because he did not show mercy to the poor man, Lazarus, who sat outside his door every day. The rich man had the ability to care for Lazarus, but chose not to. This parable is a lesson for all of us that we have a serious responsibility to care for and love our neighbor.

B. Have your students work with a partner to brainstorm at least 10 ways we can love our neighbor as Jesus taught us. Then call on students to share specific ways, and record their thoughts on the board. As students share, intentionally list items in two columns on the board, one for ways to care for a person鈥檚 physical needs and the other for ways to care for a person鈥檚 spiritual needs鈥攄o not label the columns or tell in advance why you are putting the items in two columns. If students do not immediately come up with examples of caring for a person鈥檚 spiritual needs, suggest one and ask them if they agree it would be an example of loving. Add it to the board, and it will help students think of more examples.

C. After students have shared, ask them to see if they can see anything that the items in each column have in common. If needed, you may assist them in finding the theme of each. As they discover the theme of each list, you may label the columns 鈥淐orporal actions (works)鈥 and 鈥淪piritual actions (works).鈥 Leave these lists on the board for the remainder of the lesson.

D. Explain to your students that the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy show us specific ways to love our neighbor. In loving our neighbor, we love as Jesus taught us. The word corporal means 鈥渂ody.鈥 The Corporal Works of Mercy are ways to help meet someone鈥檚 physical needs, just as we brainstormed before.

E. As you tell students the following, ask them to identify examples from the brainstorm list that fit each of the works of mercy. You may circle them on the board as you go through each one.

F. The Corporal Works of Mercy are:

  • to feed the hungry
  • to give drink to the thirsty
  • to clothe the naked
  • to shelter the homeless
  • to visit the sick
  • to ransom the captive
  • to bury the dead

G. Explain to your students that bodily needs are not the only type of needs that we have. We also have spiritual needs. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are specific ways to help meet someone鈥檚 spiritual needs and help make the Kingdom of God present in their hearts. Circle the examples in the class brainstorm list as you announce each.

H. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are:

  • to instruct the ignorant
  • to counsel the doubtful
  • to admonish sinners
  • to bear wrongs patiently
  • to forgive offenses willingly
  • to comfort the afflicted
  • to pray for the living and the dead

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