Where were you this week? Did you eat out? Did you visit someone in a healthcare facility? Were you somewhere that used housekeeping services? Did you eat picked, processed, or packed foods? Did you get a clothing "good buy?" In your activities, were you aware of the people working, perhaps without a livable wage?
Were there other people you never noticed? Perhaps it was the one child in five who is hungry or the more than 630,000 people who are homeless in the U.S. Is an acquaintance among the 7.3% of people who are unemployed? As chasms between people who are "comfortable" and neighbors who are experiencing poverty grow, it becomes increasingly unlikely we see and care for each other.
In the parable, the rich man's afterlife torment did not make him aware. Even then, he only saw Lazarus as someone to serve him. Whom do we fail to see?
Dear God of Justice, thank you for your solidarity with your children who experience poverty. Pardon us for failing to see clearly the struggles of our sisters and brothers. Show us how to act justly, compassionately, and decisively. Amen
Luke 16:19-31 (NRSV)
19 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.
22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.
24 He called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.'
25 But Abraham said, "Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.
26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.'
27 He said, "Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house—
28 for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.'
29 Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.'
30 He said, "No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
31 He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"