BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
How many times have we heard the Scripture event that Luke talks about in Chapter 16 of his gospel: “…and at his (the rich man’s ) gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table…?”
Probably the familiarity of this story conjures up a picture in our minds of the disparity between the poor and the rich man each time we hear it. It may prompt us to feel sympathetic for someone who is so needy. Perhaps we have been dismayed at the fact that someone could pass by such a desperate person and not feel a nudge to give him some type of help. However, Joyce Rupp, a well-known writer and spiritual director, comments on this incident that can move us beyond just feeling sorry or dismayed in some way toward a closer look each of these characters. In one of her books she reminds us that “many of us are, in a way, like the rich man.” We are the “rich” in good health, with free time, with faith, with friendships, courage and enthusiasm or anything we have abundantly. “Every day,” she says, “someone comes and begs at our table.” It may not be a verbal request, “but those persons tell us they would gladly eat from the scraps that fell from our table of life.”
Think for a moment. What are those scraps that we have and could give to them? Just look around. Do you see someone who is feeling down and may need to feast on our cheerful words? Someone who is unable to do certain things and may want to be fed on our gift of time — a call, visit or meal. Rupp says, “All of us have someone in our world that comes to our table of faith and would gladly partake of the riches of our prayers.”
That’s the lesson we learn from the rich man’s behavior. Then we might consider the poor and needy man in the story. Are there times when we might be the poor one? There may be certain times in our lives when we are in need of others to invite us to their table of concern and love. As it might have been an act of humility for the poor man to receive help, so it may be such an act of humility for us to accept someone’s generosity or support when we are in need of these. As the Body of Christ, God created each of us with different strengths. We have been created to work together and help one another – not function as isolated individuals. Asking for help we are, in a sense, honoring God’s purpose and honoring each other by encouraging the use of the gifts of others.
Spend some time this week and think about when and how are you the rich man…the poor man? How do you respond?