When reading the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19-31), with whom do you identify? While the answers may differ, most people will choose one or the other. However, did you ever consider that the answer could vary depending on what is happening in your life?
Some days we may feel like Lazarus … Struggling to make a living and deal with the problems of everyday life. We may be suffering through an illness or unemployment. A loved one may be going through depression or anxiety, our children may have stopped going to Church. If we are single, we may long to be in a relationship. If we are in a troubled marriage, we may yearn for relief. There are a multitude of circumstances that, like Lazarus, could make each day a painful ordeal.
Other days we are the “rich man”. Our family life is peaceful, finances aren’t a problem, and things are just “going our way”…. Life is good! During these times, we may feel so grateful for our blessings that we may want to help others who are not having an easy time.
Today’s gospel parable reminds us of two things. On those days that we feel like Lazarus, there is hope. By persevering and carrying the cross that has been given to us, we can one day enjoy eternal happiness in Heaven. All suffering in this life is temporary. On the days that we’re the “rich man”, we must remember that we have an obligation to help the poor. We’d do well to consider that “poor” can mean more than a lack of monetary wealth. Individuals can also be “poor” in many other ways (loneliness, lack of knowledge about Jesus and His Church, lack of self-esteem, etc) We can assist them by a smile or a kind word, teaching them about the truths of the Catholic Faith, helping them with chores, listening when they just “need to talk”.
Whether we feel like Lazarus or the rich man, our actions should always mirror those of Our Lord. By doing that, we will be on our way to someday resting in paradise with Abraham, Lazarus, Our Blessed Mother and of course…Jesus!