Jeepers talk about a couple of tricky readings!! So Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus.. Lazarus had spent his life outside of the rich mans gates, suffering with ill health and exclusion from his community and the rich man couldn’t take the time of day to help him. It’s stories like this that remind us of God’s justice.. That God may take a lot longer and maybe not do it the way you expect but ultimately justice will come.. It is Abraham he calls out for mercy to and Abraham reminds him of who he had been. As I tried drawing this conversation I was thinking about Lazarus and the sort of person he was.. After a lifetime of suffering and neglect, was he happy feeling justified that the rich man had got what he deserved after a lifetime of ignoring his sufferring or was he compassionate?
With this reading I always really quickly go to the brothers.. The rich man says if you only would send someone back from the dead then they would believe.. Abraham reminds him that they have the prophets and Moses to offer guidance and wisdom and if they can’t listen to them, even if someone does come back from the dead they would still not listen and change their ways.. It makes me think of how often people who have decided about something will not change their mind no matter how good a point you make.. Some people regardless of what is put before them just will not listen. I always enjoy the irony that Jesus is saying this, as one who will and people still didn’t believe him!
I wonder too whether had the rich man been given the chance whether he would have changed, living in the lap of luxury, having a great life.. I’m thinking about when things are good or when we have what we need or even what we like and we get a bit caught up in that, how sometimes maybe we too might struggle a bit to notice the other or see things from the other side or notice the ones who are suffering around us. For me I know that there are times where I just can’t care.. I think this can be different for different people. For some it is because they have it all and love it all and are not giving it up for anyone.. But then there is the other side, when people can’t care anymore because there is nothing left to give, they are so broken, so fragile. It is interesting looking at this reading now in light of the people I know and why they care or don’t care.. In the first half of the story we see the rich ruler who was too busy loving and enjoying it all and Lazarus didn’t even make it into his vision because he was so consumed with himself, but then we have Abraham speaking for Lazarus saying you had it good, he had it hard, now it is time for him to be comforted. In essence the chasm was actually created by the rich man, Lazarus had been invisible to him and now he was invisible to Lazarus..At any point this could have been a different picture for either of them if the one who had took the time to remember the one who didn’t have.
I thought today I would leave some gaps for you to draw in the sorts of things you might feel consumed by that stop you from noticing the suffering of others.
I think for me too it is a good reminder that God calls us to love others but there is times too where we need to be comforted ourselves..