Who Are The Lazuruses In Our Lives?
“ ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets …’ ”
Jesus, I have heard this parable so many times that it may have lost its effect. Lazarus has become an icon of the plight of the poor. I see so many Lazaruses on television and on the streets. But deep down inside I too have become like the rich man, unmoved by their unspoken cry. Why?
Today, I heard your story proclaimed again. I was struck not by the rich man or Lazarus, but by the rich man’s brothers. “I beg you, father,” pleads the rich man, “send [Lazarus] to my … five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.” Abraham responds that they have received the message of Moses and the prophets and should listen to it. Knowing that they have not listened, the rich man reasons with Abraham that they would listen to someone who came back from the dead. Wisely, Abraham answers, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”
In my heart, I have at times smugly reasoned, “I would listen if someone came back from the dead.” The reality is that someone has come back from the dead—you, Jesus—but have I listened if I too am numb before the many Lazaruses in my life? Am I like the rich man’s brothers?
The root of the issue is selfishness, which is so embedded in human nature that not even Jesus’ resurrection has moved us to uproot it. My own selfishness enters so automatically into what I say and how I act. Something deep within me directs me to seek my comfort, fulfill my desires—to satisfy myself. I put so much energy into my own pursuits that I often don’t even notice or don’t have the energy to respond to the Lazaruses around me.
Jesus, you promised that your Holy Spirit would remind us of all that you have said. I beg you to send your Holy Spirit to remind me of your message and to open my heart to receiving and acting on it. May your rising from the dead touch my heart and heal me of my selfishness. During this season of Lent, help me to deny myself in little ways, and take up my cross so that I may follow you instead of myself.
“Be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate.”
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 44–45). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.