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Lazarus (Gk. Lazaros, a contraction of Eleazaros—see II Mach., vi, 18—meaning in Hebrew "God hath helped"), the name of two persons in the N.T.; a character in one of Christ's parables, and the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethania.
I. LAZARUS OF THE PARABLE
(1) The Story
The dramatic story of the rich man and the beggar (only in Luke, xvi, 19-31) is set forth by Christ in two striking scenes:
(2) The Meaning
Catholic exegetes now commonly accept the story as a parable. It is also legendary that the sores of Lazarus were leprous. The purpose of the parable is to teach us the evil result of the unwise neglect of one's opportunities. Lazarus was rewarded, not because he was poor, but for his virtuous acceptance of poverty; the rich man was punished, not because he was rich, but for vicious neglect of the opportunities given him by his wealth.
II. LAZARUS OF THE MIRACLE
This personage was the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethania; all three were beloved friends of Jesus (John, xi, 5). At the request of the two sisters Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John, xi, 41-44). Soon thereafter, the Saturday before Palm Sunday, Lazarus took part in the banquet which Simon the Leper gave to Jesus in Bethania (Matt., xxvi, 6-16; Mark, xiv, 3-11; John, xii, 1-11). Many of the Jews believed in Jesus because of Lazarus, whom the chief priests now sought to put to death. The Gospels tell us no more of Lazarus (see ST. LAZARUS OF BETHANY).