“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31
We went to Swan Lake on Saturday to look at the swans up close. There were families there with little ones feeding the ducks, swans and the ravens. The swans, with their long necks and snow white feathers are stunning and gorgeous. Most of the folks were throwing bread and crackers to them. They would gobble them up greedily and draw close for more. These breathtakingly elegant creatures were shallow and greedy, quickly angered if they thought the ducks were getting their share. Several times we watched as a swan would rear back and snap out at one small unsuspecting duck or another. The ravens wisely gave them a wide berth.
Jesus tells a story of the rich man and poor Lazarus. All his life the rich man had ignored Lazarus, assuming like the swan that he was more deserving than the beggar Lazarus. The rich man, suffering in Sheol begs God to send Lazarus to help him. Still arrogant, even in the face of destruction, he asks God to coerce Lazarus to do his bidding. It is tempting for those who have privilege and wealth, beauty and station to ignore the poor and needy around them, except when service is needed. We are invited to do the opposite, to have eyes wide open and to see the need around us. And more than that, we are to share our abundance with those most in need. Blessings abound when we see with the eyes of the eternal and loving Creator.
Today, I ask God to help me see the need in our community. May we have the courage to know them by name and honor them as God has done. May we see those who are without as brothers and sisters, and desired guests at our tables. May we share a small portion of our bounty, knowing that we will be richer for it. May we make our task always to be love and compassion, knowing these are truly gifts from God, unlimited and replenishing always.