This passage from the Gospel of St. Luke is a parable about a destitute man named Lazarus and a rich man, who at times is called by the name Dives (the word dives in the Latin Bible refers to a “rich man”).
Jesus places Lazarus sitting day after day by the rich man’s front door. Lazarus is sick. He is at Dives’ home hoping to receive a scrap of food from his table. The food never comes.
Jesus continues to tell the story which culminates in the death of both men and their subsequent judgment. Lazarus is welcomed into Paradise and is seen talking to Abraham, while Dives is condemned to the flames of Hell hoping for a drop of water to quench his thirst.
The parable concludes with Abraham rejecting Dives’ wish that someone from Paradise will inform his relatives of his eternal sentence in an attempt to get them to change their way of life.
Abraham says that it is fruitless: “‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”
You see its not just the issue of Dives, as a fellow human being, not providing nourishment and solace to Lazarus. It is the fact that Dives does not even acknowledge Lazarus. He and his servants pass him every day with no perception, no acknowledgement, no understanding, no charity.
How many times have we done that to men and women standing at intersections, asking for a scrap that falls from our table. We get uncomfortable at the thought that they are there. Irritated at bad government decisions that pushed them out on the street, supposedly to be helped by the social justice safety nets; nets filled with holes. I saw a woman today holding a sign that said “I need a miracle.” There was no exclamation point or happy face penned next to it.
Lazarus may be outside our front door, or, even in the house.
Question: are we passing by people in our own family who are in need? The neighbor who lives next door? A member of our parish? Are we passing by Jesus Christ?
Lent is the natural time to reflect on how well we remember and assist, in some small way, those around us who are in need. It may be financial help, or it might just be they need someone to talk to.
Upon reflection, we may find ourselves missing the mark, even committing sins of omission. Let’s remember that, unlike Dives, we still have time to do something about it.
My thanks to Rev. Msgr. Anthony Mancini, Pastor of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, Providence, Rhode Island USA, for stimulating this blog post.
Copyright © 2011- 2019 Deacon Paul O. Iacono – All Rights Reserved.