Lazarus, hunger and hurting, is our worst nightmare. The rich man, dressed in purple and in fine linen, is oblivious to his privilege in today’s Gospel. He feasts daily without really noticing the poor and starving Lazarus, though he does seem to know his name. When the rich man dies and goes to Hades, he spots Lazarus across the chasm and asks that he may serve him. He wants mercy yet shows none. He also shows no remorse for his former sins of not helping Lazarus.
How often do we too not see our sin and expect that we will be rewarded for behaviour that is not fitting of the Kingdom? I know that I am a sinner but I do not always see the ways that I sin. I hurt people in deed and with word. I have had a career that has had me interact with numerous people over the decades. I know that more than once when I have done my Examen I see that I missed the mark. I commit to doing better and then I continue to not know my sin.
In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, an emphasis on knowing your root sin helps people to turn away from the patterns that imprison them. I find it an honour to accompany retreatants as they hold up to the Light that which binds them so that they may be free of it. Some work harder than others to unearth their treasure–and it is a treasure, as painful as it can be to realize.
In this Year of Mercy we must be kind to ourselves and to one another. Look to the prophets, as Abraham suggests in the Gospel, for examples and instructions. I do not think that the rich man was mean; he was ignorant and distracted like we all can be. As creatures, we do not recognize the Creator at all times. We must keep an eye out for God in all things and then practice mercy and love.
What is an example of how your privilege blinds you to those in need?
What act of mercy can you do during Lent to celebrate what has been bestowed on you?
We dress in fine linen and purple. We feast without famine. We do not see the hungry, the poor, the sick, those who terrify us. We block them from our vision but expect you to see us and act with mercy. And you do. You always do. Teach us to repent, Creator, of all that binds us and keeps us from being free. Amen.