The Rich Man’s Poor Eyesight

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen who feasted sumptuously every day. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.”

Luke 16:19-31

In the paragraphs of Luke that led up to the story of Lazarus Jesus talked about good stewardship of the resources you have. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for he will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Luke 16:10-13.

The religious leaders at the time didn’t like what Jesus was saying, because “they were lovers of money.” Like the rich man who passed poor Lazarus every day as he left his mansion. The rich man could not find it in himself to contribute to the needs of the poor man. Taking care of Lazarus would result from loving God more than wealth and using his wealth for God’s glory.

Echoing Jesus, James said “religion that is pure and undefiled before God is to care for orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27. And Amos raged against the wealthy in Israel and said, “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory, eat the finest cuts of meat, and drink wine from bowls.” Amos 1:4-6. Like the rich man, who passed by Lazarus every day laying by his gate and showed no compassion.

Lazarus was invisible to the Rich Man and though the rich man had plenty of money to care for Lazarus, he went about his daily business of making money and living apart from the visions he did not want to see. The moment the rich man looked at Lazarus, he would have to face his own responsibility for the poor man.

Jesus told another parable of indifference that we call the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable two religious leaders saw the body of the man that had been attacked. The took a wide swath around him to avoid feeling responsible. It was the hated Samaritan that came to the victim of assault and attended to him.

Lent is a good time to reflect on generosity and compassion because of the way that it leads to the cross – ultimate compassion for human beings. Throughout his life, Jesus paid attention to the poor, the leper, the blind, and the disenfranchised. After he washed his disciples’ feet, he told them, “You go and do likewise.” John 13:15.

Something to think about: What do you learn from Jesus in this parable? Who are the Lazaruses in your life?

Something to pray about: Father, we want to be generous and compassionate as you are. Help us to not ignore, walk around, or avert our eyes from those who need us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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