Lazarus, my teacher
Thursday Second Week of Lent
Reading Luke 16: 19-31
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 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 us 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.”
This parable challenges society’s attitude to the poor.
The inequality between those who have plenty and those who struggle to
survive has never been greater. We hear about how families are having to chose between heating their homes or putting food on the table; increasing taxes and other costs are consuming family budgets leaving many in dire circumstances. Queues at increasing number of Food Banks have never been longer, and sadly in many parts of the world there is no social support system to care for those who suffer want and go hungry. The suffering of the poor is at risk of going un-noticed and and on occassion they may be blamed for the misfortune that has fallen upon them.
During this season of Lent, I am challenged to reflect on my own attitude to material goods; to the poor and to the message of the Gospel.
Do I listen to God’s call to me to be generous in my service of the poor? Do I share my time and talents willingly or I am mean and stingy in my responses to
those around me? Are there occasions when I turn a blind eye to the suffering of others and say to myself, ‘I do not need to respond to this, this is not my problem!
Deep in my own heart, I may have not
reflected on the words, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) and
responded in loving services to him.
As a follower of Christ, I have a duty of
care to my fellow human beings. I am called to be ‘merciful’ (Matthew 5:7) to
all but especially to those who suffer. If like the rich man, I fail in mercy, I
cannot expect mercy to be shown to me. Jesus invites me to deepen my
relationship with him during this holy season by prayer, fasting, almsgiving and
service of the poor. I am asked to take his message of love to heart and to be
generous in my responses to his ‘little ones.’ I am reminded that God speaks to
me in the realities of my day not in the extraordinary as requested by the rich
man. I choose the responses I make to God’s invitations.
Open my eyes O Lord to see you in all who suffer;
Heal my blindness and hardness of heart
that I may respond in love to those who cry out,
‘give me a drink’
Help me not to walk away knowing that it
is you that I serve
O Divine Son of God, Amen.