Scripture: Luke 16:19-31
Key verse: (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.”
Reflection: I have read this parable so many times and today I saw something new. I love when that happens! (If you haven’t read the parable, be sure to read the entire thing and not just the key verse above.)
The rich man, who isn’t given a name by Jesus the storyteller, lives in luxury while the poor man, named Lazarus by the storyteller, lays outside his gate hungry for food. Both men die. The poor man is carried by angels to live with Abraham and the rich man goes to Hades (Sheol in Hebrew, the place of the dead). The rich man calls out to Abraham to have Lazarus come and cool his parched mouth with a drop of water.
The rich man knew Lazarus’ name! I never saw that before. I had assumed that the rich man ignored Lazarus, avoiding eye contact as he went in and out of the gate in the same way I often avoid eye contact with the person at the stoplight holding the cardboard sign. I thought the rich man was oblivious and in his own little world of luxury. I believed the rich man had sinned in his ignorance and hadn’t made a conscious choice to pass by someone he knew.
But the rich man knew Lazarus’ name! Ouch! He knew who Lazarus was. And he has the gall to ask for Lazarus to come to him as a servant.
Every poor person, every beggar, every person we avoid has a name. Every person is created in the image of God to be treated with respect. When we know someone’s name, we recognize their humanity. Or at least it’s my hope and my prayer that we don’t choose to ignore them and then treat them only as servants who can do something for us. Yep, that’s my prayer.
Prayer: O God, give me eyes to see each person today as someone created in your image and loved by you. Equip me to love even the most difficult person in a way that honors who they are in your eyes. Shake me out of my oblivious ignorance. Give me compassion to live like Jesus. In his name I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].