Today’s Gospel story is about the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus. When I was a young girl, I remember being filled with many strong feelings and images whenever I heard this Gospel proclaimed. For one, the image of Lazarus living in such poverty that he had sores that were licked by dogs moved me to pity. It also filled me with revulsion. The image of the rich man in a place of torment for eternity filled me with dread. I remember thinking that he would never escape the fire. He would never be able to make amends or be able to help his brothers escape the same fate.
We don’t know much about the rich man from the Gospel account. He may have been someone considered by those who knew him as a good and decent person. But Jesus points out the important fact that he did not see, or rather chose not to see, Lazarus, someone who was in close proximity to him (at the gates of his home) and suffering greatly. Why didn’t the rich man see Lazarus? Was it too gruesome for him to look and see such suffering? Was it just easier to turn the other way and believe such suffering didn’t exist?
And where do I fit into this story? I know there are times when I find it much, much easier not to have to view the suffering that is around me. I ask forgiveness for these times I have failed to see Lazarus and to allow his suffering to penetrate my heart, to change it from one of stone to one of flesh. Help me LORD to see this suffering one as my brother, my sister. Give me the courage to look unflinchingly and see suffering and then do all that I can to bring Your healing and peace to every life situation where I find it. Amen.