Friday, September 30, 2016

The sin of ignoring Lazarus

I heard a great homily a while ago and it really was relevant and it was a very relevant message to life.

If you see something, say something.  When we think of this, we often think of the Department of Homeland Security's messages to prevent disaster.  This great priest was the first who connected that saying to Luke 16: 19-31.  This is the Gospel reading where there was a poor man and a rich man.  The rich man lived opulently.  In today's world, he was probably a foodie who enjoyed Wines of the Month.  The poor man lived at his gate and "who would gladly have eaten the scraps that fell from the rich man's table."  The lack of charity the rich man had was apparent, but what was brought to my attention was that a portion of his sin was his lack of seeing and lack of saying.  What does this mean?

Even after the rich man ended up in the netherworld, he wasn't apologetic to poor Lazarus.  He didn't see the value or dignity in the poor man who was at the bosom of Abraham.

True sin was not seeing Lazarus, not what he did in response, it was his lack of seeing Lazarus as a person and his lack of saying something.  Instead of humbling himself before Lazarus to ask for a sip of water to cool his tongue, he was snapping his fingers demanding that he come, like one hollers for a taxi.  The priest even went farther to say, perhaps Hell is a place where everyone snaps their fingers, demanding attention and part of Hell is that everyone is doing it and hollering so loudly that no one responds.  It is something I could imagine.  I certainly deal with entitled people who think of no one but themselves and demand others to break laws, or bend rules because "they are special."

The rich man though was still in the netherworld with no remorse.  He didn't see Lazarus as a person. How many times do we not "see" people, but "see" what they can do for us, or the role they are supposed to play to get us to the next step in our life.  How often do we utilize people as a way to further ourselves with no thought for them?  I'm sure I am not fully doing justice to the homily I heard, but I have pondered these thoughts over the week and wanted to share them, because in my 36 years of hearing this particular Bible passage, I don't think I've heard a homily looking at this part of the story.  Now the say something part.  When we "see" people, it's not good enough to "see" them, we also need to "say something".  We need to take our witness of their dignity to the next step.  This could mean directly helping them, this could also mean saying a silent prayer.  It means acting.  Not only do we have faith, but we have faith in action.  The homilist said it would have even have been better for the rich man to go into a diatribe about capitalism and working for a living would have been better than saying nothing.

So remember, if you see something, say something.  Faith does not bear fruit without action.

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