TWENTY SIXTH SUNDAY C (Luke 1: 19-31) Who is Lazarus?
Here we have two people: an anonymous rich man and a poor man called Lazarus. Two contrasting lives, two opposite life styles. One man dressed his body in purple (a sign of wealth) and linens (another sign), dined gourmet every day, his house secured by a gate. Outside the gate lay Lazarus, his body covered with sores, which wild dogs (considered unclean) came to lick. Lazarus longed to eat the scraps and leftovers from the rich man’s table but got nothing. Eventually the two men die and their destinies are reversed: the poor man is carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom while the rich man wakes up tormented in Hades.
Scholars say that the story is an old one and found in other cultures. What is Jesus doing with it? Parables are a special kind of teaching. This parable is about seeing the person of Christ in the poor. It reminds me of the scene of the last judgment in Matthew chapter 25, where Jesus tells us that when we clothe, feed and house the poor and console the afflicted, we do it all to him – to his person. That’s how Jesus sees it. That’s the big picture. Christ risen from the dead was alive in Lazarus like a lamp shining in a dark place – cf. 2 Peter 1:19.
The rich man probably noticed Lazarus as a nuisance at his gate but looked the other way. Now, hapless in Hades, he wants his five (wealthy) brothers to be forewarned, even by someone back from the dead, lest they meet the same fate. But it’s not how the power of the resurrection works. Christ in every Lazarus, if we look, is meant to change us inwardly – giving us eyes to see reality, dissolving the veil between us and Christ, between us and our neighbours, between us and the Lazaruses of the world.
Today’s scriptures point to one thing: God favours the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the disenfranchised, the suffering, those whose bodies are twisted, and those who cannot see or get around. God cares uniquely for those who are powerless and dependent on the kindness and generosity of others. “When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor they call me a communist” – Bishop Helder Camara.
Fr. QQ – 09/23/2022