Would you see an opportunity to love, an opportunity to heal, an opportunity to serve? Would you see a hurting and needy brother? Would you see the face of Christ himself? Or would you be disgusted, scared, annoyed, and worried about the impact on your property value? Would you try to ignore him and hope that he’d go away?
This seems to be what the rich man in today’s gospel did. It’s not that he couldn’t see Lazarus, because he even knew his name! He simply was too hard of heart, too indifferent, to do anything to help him. The rich man chose to separate himself from the plight of Lazarus his neighbor- a separation that continued after they both had died, except with a dramatic reversal of fortune.
Jesus told this parable to challenge our way of thinking about the needy, so that we can change our way of acting toward the needy. Jesus challenges us to see the Lazarus on our doorstep as a brother, not a burden; as an opportunity, not an inconvenience; as a person, not a problem.
He’s not asking us to do the impossible. What he is asking is that we change our attitude, and then to do what we can. Which may be more than we think! If you’ll recall, Lazarus would have been satisfied with table scraps- a reminder that even the small things we do can seem so great to those who have so little. Or as St. Anselm once said: “The fasts of the rich are the feasts of the poor.”
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/nab/032411.shtml