Our modern society and wider world are places of extremes; we have the very wealth and the desperately poor. In our newspapers and on our televisions, we see the many stories of people who have more money, wealth and riches than they will ever need. We also see those who are struggling just to stay alive each day. We are told that our economies are recovering after the serious financial crash. Yet the number of food banks and charity shops are growing daily. Many churches and charities report that more and more people are looking for help and support with the basic necessities of life.
The gospel this Sunday puts before us the abundance of the rich man and the poverty of Lazarus. He is lying at the rich man’s door with the dogs as his only companions. We can well imagine the rich man simply stepping over Lazarus. He is so self-absorbed that Lazarus’ condition does not affect him in any way. When both die, Lazarus inherits eternal life with God, but the rich man does not fare as well. Only when he dies does he take notice of Lazarus, but it’s too late.
This gospel puts before us two challenging questions, how do I treat others, especially the poor and marginalised? How do I respond when someone else asks for my help? We hear the gospel every time we celebrate the Eucharist. But its message about how we are to live as followers of Jesus does not only come from scripture. It also comes through those lying at our door, and through those who we begging on our streets. God’s word and message comes to us through others. God’s word can be seen and heard as someone who is need. We need only to open our eyes to see them. We need only listen to them to help them. This is how we live our faith through concrete actions today. This is how we gain awareness to see those in need at our own door and then choose how to respond. The rich man did nothing to Lazarus. Neither did he do anything for Lazarus. His sin was indifference.
Every day, in countless small ways, we are asked to look beyond our own needs to see the needs of others. The choice is ours as to how we respond. We can reach in mercy and compassion or we can walk away. It is said that for evil to thrive all that this is needed is that good people do nothing. This week, let us look beyond our needs and see where we can help another person and make a difference.