Quality is the first norm for art, but its final norm is love and truth, the enriching of human life, the deepening of our vision.

Lent: James Janknegt: The Rich Man and Lazarus

James Janknegt: The Rich Man and Lazarus

The Danger of Wealth

by James Janknegt

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 NRSV

Wealth can make a person believe they are self-sufficient. That is its real danger. Obviously wealth can buy stuff: sumptuous food, fine jewelry or clothes, fancy cars and houses. It can even provide a simulacrum of friendship or even a mate (everybody has a price, right?) Enough wealth can make a person powerful in business and politics. With enough wealth and power, one can seem totally independent and invulnerable. But wealth cannot cheat death. And after death comes judgment. How did you use all the riches, position, and power? Merely for yourself or for the good of others?

But self-sufficiency is not just a danger of the rich. I have lived hand to mouth all my life and am fiercely independent. I do not like asking others for help. My natural inclination is to not trust people and, if at all possible, do it myself. But I realized at one point in my life that if I ever wanted to be able to love others, I would have to acknowledge my lack of love, my total insufficiency and allow Love to enter my life. I let the God who is Love make me a part of himself. I was, in fact, convinced by the man, Jesus, who gave his life out of love for me, who was crucified, died, was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead.

God of the living and the dead, do not let the riches and pleasures of this life deprive me of knowing and following you. Help me not live as an owner of things but as their steward. I give back to you everything I have, everything you have given me, to be used for your purposes. I acknowledge you as my master. Continue to use me and whatever wealth I have as an instrument to bring about and further your kingdom. Amen.


James B. Janknegt: The Rich Man and Lazarus, Lenten Meditation # 30 in James Janknegt’s Lenten Meditations, 2017. Over the last 16 years Janknegt painted 40 paintings based on Jesus' parables. He has put the paintings into a book of Lenten devotions: one for each day of Lent along with the scripture the painting is based on and a brief meditation and prayer. The book is 92 pages, full color throughout, soft cover with a great foreword by W. David O. Taylor and beautifully designed by Danny Schweers. The book is $20.00 plus shipping and can be purchased via

James B. Janknegt was born in Austin, Texas, USA. He attended art school at the University of Texas in Austin and graduated with a BFA in 1978. He left Texas and moved to Iowa City to attend graduate school. Upon graduating, with an MA and MFA in 1982, he moved back to Austin and began exhibiting his work in many galleries and museums around Texas and the United States. While in high school Jim became a Jesus Freak and sang in a folk group. The Janknegts converted to Catholicism in 2005 and were received into full communion in 2007. In 1998 the Janknegts moved from Austin to Elgin, Texas where they have an ArtFarm. Jim worked full time to pay the bills and painted in his off hours. He retired in 2015. When he is not painting he enjoys reading, building things, gardening, tending to animals and camping. He also enjoys watching movies and listening to music.

ArtWay Visual Meditation March 5, 2017

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- June 2024: Year B, Proper 18 (Revised Common Lectionary)
- April 2024: EASTER - Lynn Aldrich: Grid Buster
- January 2024: James Janknegt: The Rich Man and Lazarus
- December 2023: Rembrandt van Rijn: The Annunciation
- October 2023: Sunday Christ the King
- April 2023: Year A, Proper 17
- November 2022: Christmas - Brian Kershisnik: Nativity
- October 2022: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- June 2022: Michaelmas, September 29
- March 2022: Lent
- January 2022: The Speck and the Log
- November 2021: Advent - Care for the Earth
- September 2021: Year B, Proper 25
- May 2021: Year B, Proper 18 (Revised Common Lectionary)
- April 2021: Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: Seven Last Words of Christ
- February 2021: Year B, Lent 6: The Ointment of Nard by Arcabas
- January 2021: Year B, Epiphany 8
- December 2020: Advent: Butterfly
- August 2020: Year A, 21st Sunday after Pentecost: Psalm 1
- June 2020: A Year, 10th Sunday of the Summer
- May 2020: Pentecost: Donna Shasteen
- April 2020: The Scene in the Kitchen; Christ at Emmaus
- March 2020: The Seven Last Words of Christ
- January 2020: Year A, Epiphany 3
- November 2019: Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom
- October 2019: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- August 2019: Ordinary Time
- March 2019: Aaron Douglas & James Johnson: Listen Lord
- January 2019: The Speck and the Log
- December 2018: Botticelli: Madonna and Child, with Saints
- November 2018: Gor Chahal and Jan Krist
- August 2018: Year A, Autumn Sunday 8, Parable of the Talents
- May 2018: Ernst Barlach: The Believer
- March 2018: Easter: Grid Buster
- March 2018: Good Friday: I am Thirsty
- February 2018: Lent: The Rich Man and Lazarus
- January 2018: Third Sunday after Epiphany, Year B
- November 2017: Advent - Johannes Vermeer: Woman with Balance
- September 2017: A year, 6th Sunday of the Autumn
- August 2017: A Year, 10th Sunday of the Summer
- May 2017: Pentecost: Images for the Holy Spirit
- April 2017: Fra Angelico: Christ in Limbo
- February 2017: Roger Wagner: Lazarus (Psalm 49)
- January 2017: Gislebertus: The Dream of the Three Kings
- November 2016: Advent: Butterfly
- November 2016: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- September 2016: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- January 2016: 25 January - Caravaggio: The Conversion of Saul
- December 2015: Meditating on the Life of Christ
- November 2015: Gor Chahal and Jan Krist
- October 2015: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- August 2015: Ordinary Time
- June 2015: Van Gogh: The Sower
- February 2015: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
- December 2010: Advent - Until He Comes!