What is Your Lazarus Story?
The Gospel story as recounted by St. Luke (Ch. 16:19-31) is one that rings true all the more in our modern society.
The world’s rich, especially the elite of society, have more wealth than ever before, and yet there are more poor, hungry and diseased people living in the world than ever before too.
It is not a coincidence. The rich are taking from the poor. The story told by Jesus of Nazareth has an important lesson for us all. It is a powerful story and a challenge to our faith.
Mr. Rich dressed in the latest fashion and lived in luxury as many do today. Lazarus was a poor man covered in sores and could not WWW. COLUMBAN. ORG February 2010 9 Faith is walk due to his hunger.
He had to be carried to the door of the rich man’s house in the hope of getting the leftover scraps that fell from the heavily laden table.
community had the compassion of the Good Samaritan to give food to Lazarus or to clean the poor man’s sores brought on by malnutrition.
Only the dogs had to try and heal them. That’s one go too far by implying that the dogs showed more love than the humans? In the end, Lazarus died of hunger and disease but went to a life of happiness beyond the grave.
Mr. Rich died too, perhaps from his excessive consumption of rich food combined with his lazy lifestyle.
He just didn’t care about others nor did he share what he had been given so abundantly by God.
According to a study released in October 2009 by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (www.Fao.org), 1. 02 billion people are undernourished world-wide.
The plight of Lazarus is nothing new. Consider that 227 of the world’s richest people have an income that equals the income earned by 2. 7 billion of the world’s poor, 40% of all humans on earth.
They earn about one dollar a day to feed an average family of four. Death comes to all of us, but it comes to the poor sooner. As many as six million children younger than fi ve years old die every year because of hunger.
Approximately 25,000 people die in grievous pain every day from hunger; one person dies every 3. 5 seconds.
Yet in the history of the world, Mr. Rich was so mean that he wouldn’t part with the food scraps to keep Lazarus alive.
No one in the pity on Lazarus and licked his sores up for faithful pets. But did Jesus we have never produced as much food as we do today. Fruits are harvested in South America and shipped across the world before they spoil.
Corn and soybean crops have abundant yields. In some parts of the world, rising rates of obesity are more problematic than hunger. Diet books, diet pills and “miracle diets” promising quick and easy weight loss are extremely profitable industries.
It is pretty obvious that a small group of people has much more than the rest of the world, and the privileged group isn’t sharing.
Imagine a mother with five kids who has one small can of sardines and half a kilo of rice with which to feed her family for several days.
A shelf of canned goods and a sack of rice would constitute wealth for that mother. Being a true Christian and not a lukewarm one calls for a spiritual awaking.
It is to accept that the poor and the downtrodden must be freed from the shackles of poverty and injustice and given the freedom and the means to be self-reliant and live in dignity.
We must ask if we do enough to reduce human suffering and stand for human rights.
This is what it means to be a mature Christian; to implement in action the words of Jesus, to love one another, to free the captives, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and believe that when we do it for the poor we do it to Jesus.
He identified with them, and He wants us to meet Him when we help them. Faith is not in a set of dogmas alone but in what they represent: that is, the belief that Jesus is resurrected and alive and in people, especially the poor.
Jesus wants us to be one with Him. He came to serve and to be served and that’s a lesson we all have to learn and practice.
Fr. Shay Cullen works in the Philippines.