A Reflection by
Liliosa Kamille B. Suarez
Over the past several months, we’ve been immensely absorbed by the sad news about the rising number of new covid cases around the country which gives us indications that the pandemic is not going to end soon.
But some good news came – anti-covid vaccines are now available and in fact vaccination of Filipinos are now ongoing all over the country. The sad news is that available vaccines may not be enough to cover all our people, although our government has announced that more vaccines are due to arrive in the next few months.
The sad story of covid impact to us is like a never-ending bad news.
Life always seems to be full of good news and bad news. Apparently, we can never experience one without also experiencing the other.
In the Bible there are also stories of good news and bad news. Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus tells us of a situation where someone is being lifted up (Lazarus) and someone is being brought down (the rich man). A good news to one and a bad news to another. In fact, this parable tells us of life’s contrasting experiences. At the start we find that the rich are rich and the poor are poor. Later the poor is rich and the rich is poor. At the start, the life of the poor (Lazarus) was tormented and the life of the rich seemed so secured. Later, the life of the poor man is secured in heaven and full of comfort, while the rich man is tormented in hell. Good news and bad news are all around this parable as also in our life experiences.
While the parable starts out with the good news of his wealth, the rich man, oppositely, got the bad news later. The Bible did not say that the rich man has caused anybody any harm. Yet, he ended up a loser. Just about the same time as Lazarus, the rich man dies too. In contrast though, there was no angel ride for him. In fact, he ended up in Hades. He was tormented in hell. That’s bad news. But the bad news gets worse. Down there he saw Lazarus up there. So he calls out to Father Abraham to at least cool his tongue. But Abraham says “no”. That’s bad news again. And bad news multiplies, it seems. When the rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers (five of them, rich!) to change their ways, Abraham again says, “no can do! Let them listen to the prophets.” Bad news still.
This story has good news for us. But there is bad news as well, especially if we do not heed the lessons Christ is teaching us. Far too often most Bible readers are tempted to read this parable as a story about the evils of wealth. But that really isn’t the point. For the sin of the rich man is not that he is rich, but that he is absorbed only in himself and his life. His sin is that he never cared. He never made the choice to cross the gate to tend Lazarus who was right at the doorsteps of his house. Of course, the rich man did nothing against Lazarus. But he failed to do any good as well when he could have done something. Nothing was not good enough here. He failed to reach out and share a little of his blessing with a poor man. The rich man sinned in what he failed to do when he could have done it.
Anyway, enough of all this bad news!
The good news is that we can learn from the parable something about ourselves. First, we live in a world full of Lazarus folks. We don’t trip over them outside our front door, but they are never far away from us. We see them, and often we look away from their situation because it isn’t very pretty, or very hopeful. They don’t look quite right to us, or smell good, or dress like we do. And they’re always in trouble, and they’re always in need. We begin to catch the good news of Christ’s love when we look around us and see the Lazaruses nearby.
Secondly, we are called to care for Lazarus, not as an enemy, but as a friend we have not yet met. It’s not enough just to see those who suffer around us. We who are able are called to do something about their situation. Not because we are rich, but because we are human brothers and sisters who can help. We each have to find our own way to help, but we must each one help one. If we do not, we endanger our very souls. Too many of us don’t reach out.
Thirdly, the parable tells us we can change from being uncaring to becoming servants of Christ. It tells us this by reminding us what happened to the rich man’s brothers. They could change, but they couldn’t be changed by a third person. Try as he might, the dead rich man, from Hades, could not send a message to his rich brothers still living. Even though he wanted to help them, it was too late for him. But not too late for them or us! They had the prophets to read. We have the Word, and for this very reason the Word is to be treasured and read and memorized, until it becomes a very part of our living. The good news is that when we live out the Word, we become care givers. Caring flows out of us. But it’s a choice we must make to receive the gift of salvation. The good news is that it is offered to each one of us. Have you received it?
Let this be the solemn words of challenge for all of us. For sure, you and I don’t want to go to hell, and we all don’t want to begin a hellish existence right here on earth. In times when we are tempted to overlook those outside our gates, let us pray that God will find the key to open wide our hearts, until we discover that the Lazaruses outside our doors are more than friends, they are brothers and sisters. And we will do something about it.
Christ did something about us long time ago when we were rich with the world and poor in spirit. He cared. Certainly, God guides us as we follow in his footsteps.
Let us pray…
“Amazing and remarkable God, we praise you for your goodness and love that your well- timed acts of grace come to us sometimes unpredictably. Awaken our thoughts and hearts, o God, that we may learn to care for the Lazaruses of our days who are right at the doorsteps of our homes and church. Teach us to learn from the story of Lazarus and from the experiences of poor people like Mary Jane. We implore your constant inspiration and grace in our favor and in favor of people who are in terrible need of help. Through Jesus, our Lord. Amen.”