Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 and Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 • Amos 6:1a, 4-7 and Psalm 146 • 1 Timothy 6:6-19 • Luke 16:19-31
In this Sunday's Luke reading, Jesus tells a story – with a twist. The set up is a rich man who lived a fabulous lifestyle, ignoring a sick, poor man named Lazarus who laid outside the gates of his home and begged for help. Even the dogs would come and lick his open sores, but the rich man would not help him. Both the rich man and Lazarus die. The rich man finds himself in Hades, where he is in agony, and from his vantage point he can see that Lazarus is now very comfortably placed. The rich man wants to send a warning back to his family members to live differently. Usually, this is where the story gets good, featuring ghosts and all manner of the supernatural. But in Jesus' telling, this is where the story ends. The request is refused on the grounds that the family would not change, even if someone came back from the dead.
Change is hard. Part of the problem is the ability to distance from precisely those situations which might motivate us to change. The rich man, in essence, was stuck with his wealth, and it interfered with his ability to see the reality Lazarus faced. The gates which kept him ensconced in his fabulous home kept him from having to deal with the poor, or the feelings stirred by seeing the poor. In a sense, the dogs had it easier than the rich man, able to see the open sores and instinctively responding by licking his wounds. When a person distances from others, that distance not only gets in the way of seeing what others are up against, it also gets in the way of the very natural and human emotion of compassion which comes from within.
Morning: Where will I be tempted to close myself off from others today? How can I better care for myself while connecting to others?
Evening: When did I notice compassion stirring from within me today?