Daily Reflection
March 23rd, 2000
Gerry Stockhausen, S.J.
Economics Department
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalms 1:1-4, 6
Luke 16:19-31

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

One of the things that makes this gospel parable so powerful is its simplicity.  All we know about Lazarus is that he is a beggar covered with sores.  We don’t know if he was one of the “deserving” poor or not.  We don’t know if life dealt him a bad hand or if he made poor choices, or if he was just lazy.  Similarly, all we know about the rich man is that he dressed and ate well.  We don’t know if he was idle or industrious, whether he made his wealth, stole it, or inherited it.  He may have been a pillar of the community, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, one who led prayer breakfasts and whom everybody who was anybody sought out for advice.  We don’t know.

All we can say is that when the rich man used the words “we” or “us” or “our,” he did not include Lazarus.  For Jesus that is the danger of riches:  they tend to insulate us and isolate us so that we can no longer hear the cry of the poor and no longer know our own poverty.  

This Lenten season provides us time to ask whom we include and whom we leave out when we say “we” and “us” and “our.”  Another way to pose the question is to ask to whom we refer when we talk about “them” and “their” problems and what “they” need.  

But the main focus of Lent should not be on ourselves.  It is primarily a time to reflect on the God who discovers us poor sinners at the gate, chooses the path not of insulation, but of compassion, and becomes one of us in order to lead us to the riches, the fullness of life, in the reign of God.  What can our response be except wonder, and gratitude, and a desire to share fully in the life of the God who loves us so!

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