Lazarus (Greek Lazaros , a contraction of Eleazaros --see 2 Maccabbees 6:18 — meaning in Hebrew " God hath helped"), the name of two persons in the New Testament; a character in one of Christ's parables, and the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethania.
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.
This personage was the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethania; all three were beloved friends of Jesus ( John 11:5 ). At the request of the two sisters Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead ( John 11:41-44 ). Soon thereafter, the Saturday before Palm Sunday, Lazarus took part in the banquet which Simon the Leper gave to Jesus in Bethania ( Matthew 26:6-16 ; Mark 14:3-11 ; John 12:1-11 ). 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 ).
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