“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.’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s Gospel can be guilt-inducing. I have willingly stepped over the Lazarus lying on my doorstep more often than I’d like to admit. The sorrowful regret for that unwillingness to see the poor in my midst can be crippling. But Jesus does not tell us this story to make us feel bad. Rather, he wants us to see ourselves in both the rich man and Lazarus.
Sr. Raphael Considine, PBVM, wrote, “The heart in touch with its own poverty learns to recognize the faces of the poor.” We are all deeply in need, hungering for something out of reach, destitute of love or faith or truth. When we see what is lacking within us, we recognize that it is our poverty that makes us human, and it is our poverty that unites us.
When we deny our incompleteness, we miss seeing Christ within and among us. For God was so humble as to adopt the poverty of being human. Are we humble enough to recognize and love the poverty that makes us human, the poverty that God so loves?
—Rachel Fitzgibbon serves as Retreat Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington IL.
Lord, give me the grace to know myself, that I may love myself.
Give me the grace to love myself, that I may love others.
Give me the grace to love others, that I may do your work.
Give me the grace to do your work, that I may have true joy.
Give me the grace to be joyful, that I may bring hope to the world,
A world that is poor, a world that desperately needs your light.