“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And 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. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 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.’
But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 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 listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
This Gospel passage is often called the parable of “Lazarus and the Rich Man.” There’s an important lesson about the reign of God in that little title. Lazarus’ name is mentioned four separate times in the story. But the unjust rich man? He’s nameless. Of course, that’s the exact opposite of how things work in our fallen world. We can rattle off the names of rich and powerful people, but those who are poor or oppressed live in obscurity. Jesus seems to be telling us to reorient our priorities, to put those on the margins at the center of our concern. As this parable reminds us, defending the dignity of the poor is a matter of eternal challenging life or death.
Today is an important day in the Society of Jesus, which marks milestones connected to three holy men who truly put those on the margins at the center: St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Francis Xavier were canonized on this day in 1622, and the Salvadoran Jesuit Rutilio Grande was assassinated by the government for serving and accompanying the poor. We pray for their intercession today.
On this day when the Society of Jesus remembers St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and Servant of God and martyr Rutilio Grande, I pray in thanksgiving for their faith and witness.
Help me to follow in their footsteps, growing in holy boldness and love of neighbor.
Whenever I am discouraged or tempted to cynicism, help me to remember I walk in the footsteps of the saints.
I pray this through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.
—Mike Jordan LaskeyPlease share the Good Word with your friends!