The first thought that came to me after reading today's scriptural
passages was Barbra Streisand's song "People" from the show "Funny Girl."
The lines that kept playing over and over in my head were "people who need
people are the luckiest people in the world" and "first, be a person who
Why the connection? Well, both Jeremiah and the Psalm, at one level,
are saying don't trust people. Turn your trust from people, things
of this world, to the Lord, and things beyond this world. Don't be
fooled by the flesh, by the counsel of the wicked, don't walk in the way
of sinners, nor be insolent. And so, the song came to me because it
seems that people really do need people. We are social, we are a species
that must have some interaction to thrive. So we can't be hermits,
islands unto ourselves. We live in this world, with all its good and
bad. We can't avoid the flesh because we are of the flesh. We
can't ignore the wicked because they are all about us, and are us many times.
We can't not walk in the way of sinners because we are sinners.
Well then, what to make of the call to avoid trusting people, and not walking
in the way of sinners? I think it is a call to be aware of what motivates
us. If we reflect on our motivations, our actions, and their consequences,
we can be with people, but not trust only in people things. We can be with
sinners, and sin, but not like it, and so not walk in the way of sinners.
We can be aware of our own wickedness and that of others, and try not to
follow that counsel, but instead the counsel of the Lord.
The story about Lazarus reinforces this connection for me. Lazarus
was a person who needed people. Lazarus had human needs that he could
not satisfy himself. He received what was "bad" during life and he
needed people to ease his suffering. Lazarus was called to be a reminder
to others, to be an opportunity for people to walk in the way of the Lord.
The rich man didn't realize that he needed Lazarus until it was too late.
The rich man didn't perceive Lazarus as a creature of God. The rich
man does not understand that the presence of Lazarus in his life was an opportunity
to understand the fullness of God's creation and his role in it. Lazarus
represents an incredible gift to the rich man, the gift of awareness.
It was a gift the rich man refused to accept. When he suffers the consequences
of his refusal he wants to warn his siblings, but Abraham reminds him that
the message already is there, that another reminder won't do any good.
What is left unsaid is that there were (and are!) countless Lazaruses providing
the opportunity for the gift already present in their, and our, lives.
And so people who need people ARE the luckiest people in the world.
They realize their connectedness to God's creation. They realize they
are called to both give and receive. And so my prayer today is for
the grace to recognize the gifts God sends me in the form of suffering people
and to be aware of the call to walk in the way of the Lord in being with