The story of Lazarus and the rich man is haunting. Really, we could substitute ourselves into the scene in true Ignatian-style contemplation and be the rich man. What would it be that would keep us on the other side of the great chasm? Are we as ignorant about our sin? I suspect most of us are. Some of us know our foibles only too well–our sin is ever before us. However, I suspect that we all have our blind spots just as the rich man did. I am sure he thought he was living a good life and would go to heaven.
We see glimpses though of his entitlement, even in his agony. He continues to ignore the poor man, addressing Father Abraham, and asking for him to send Lazarus over to wait upon his needs–or at least, send him to convince his remaining family to change their ways. Ironically, he may have missed the point. Lazarus was not some slave to be ordered around. He was not a man created to serve the rich man’s needs. He was simply a fellow human being, worthy of dignity and respect. The rich, nameless man knew who he was but he never for a moment speaks directly to Lazarus. What does this say about him?
As my friends to the south prepare for an election, certain issues raise to the forefront. More shootings of black men have occurred this past week. I wonder how big that chasm is in heaven these days, and how many black lives are sitting with Lazarus, resting at last in the bosom of Abraham, carried there by angels. How many murdered and missing Indigenous women would be on that side, forgotten by many here, yet grieved by loved ones every single day since their tragic deaths? How many privileged people who believe they are entitled to the good life are no longer satisfied and are left in torment?
What would Father Abraham say to me in my demands over the abyss? Would I find mercy? Would I finally get a true wake-up call? I believe in the mercy of God and I do not know if there is a holding place for good souls who miss the mark by a hundred or so meters. In the Second Reading, the people of God are exhorted to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. We are urged to grab hold of eternal life and in not so gentle terms, to fight the good fight of faith. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, perhaps we will be shown how to pursue those things that strip away our sense of entitlement and create clean hearts within us. Maybe then we will have more compassion on the squeegee kid, the beggar on the corner, and all the poor in front of us. With any ounce of grace, we will all be carried away by angels.
Who is your Lazarus?
When does your sense of entitlement get the best of you?
May I be carried away by angels to rest in the bosom of Abraham and the arms of Jesus. Strip away my sense of entitlement, God, that I may not be blinded by my own needs and miss you here. Keep my eyes open to the Lazaruses that are right at my feet, wanting just a sliver of what I need. May my heart learn to see each person as a human, a family member. May all who have gone before us find mercy and love at the end of their journey. Amen.