“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.’”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus discusses a rich man who enjoyed a lifestyle that wasn’t just comfortable, it was luxurious—even while Lazarus languished at his doorstep. The wealthy man was obviously untroubled by Lazarus’ suffering. Perhaps the wealthy many was convinced that Lazarus deserved his fate or maybe he was simply too self-centered to imagine what Lazarus’ life was like. (Even after death, the wealthy man still sees Lazarus as less-than: a servant who can be sent to cool his tongue, a supporting role rather than the lead in his own story.) Do you think the wealthy man ever stopped to consider what life was like from Lazarus’ point of view?
Pope Francis calls us to fight the “globalization of indifference.” He says, “We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!” We might think we are too busy to help others in need. Or maybe we think it’s someone else’s job to ease their suffering. A lot of us can probably more easily relate to the wealthy man than to Lazarus. But what if I were to switch places with the hungry, the sick, the lonely, or the stranger? How would that change what I see, feel, and desire?
You are with me each moment of this day.
When I am tempted to be indifferent to the needs of others, open my eyes and my ears.
When I feel anxious and overwhelmed, fill my heart with your peace and love.
When I feel depressed or despair at the state of the world, inspire me with hope.
Help me be a source of light in darkness, tenderness in suffering, comfort in loneliness, strength in vulnerability.
Let me be an instrument of your healing presence and power today.
—Dr. Marcus Mescher
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