Posted on Oct 1, 2019

29 September 2019

I am neither Lazarus nor the rich man in today’s gospel.

If I could see myself as Lazarus–I might be comforted.

If I could see myself as the rich man–I might feel myself challenged.

But, I am somewhere in the middle.

I thought I was poor once–when I was in college.

Of course every college student thinks he or she is poor.

But I was never homeless, I was never destitute.

Now, I am certainly part of America’s middle class.

But that’s not rich.

Rich is owning your own jet.

Rich is having houses on both the east and west coast.

I’m neither Lazarus nor the rich man and I need to be convinced that Jesus has something to say to me today, beyond the bland Christianity of, “it’s nice to be nice.”

As I see it this story is a sad story.

It’s sad, not because Lazarus has a miserable life,

not because the rich man doesn’t get a drink of water,

but because the rich man never learns,

he seems to pass up every opportunity for conversion,

every opportunity for even the littlest change of heart.

Lazarus was no better than a dog to him while he lived in splendor,

and in torment, Lazarus is still no better than someone to do his bidding.

Hell didn’t change the rich man, it just made his hardness clearer.

Can you imagine him ordering Lazarus to get him a drink of water?

I’m caught in the middle of this society–where I don’t do awful things,

but we really don’t move towards the other end of the spectrum either–

and that is why this is such a sad story to me,

precisely because we don’t live on the extremes,

we may more easily pass opportunities for conversion, for even a little change of heart.

We may be more blind than the rich man who had to step over Lazarus

to get in and out of his house.

For as wonderful as life can be,

For as gracious as life can be, it is also a fight, as the author of the letter to Timothy says.

Don’t give up the fight,

fight to keep you sensitivity to the opportunities for conversion.

We have to fight for just a little change of heart every day.

I think that’s what the story is about,

and we don’t have to be either Lazarus or the rich man to get to the point.