(Adults, the parable in this Sunday's Gospel presents us with two very different people. With the 6-9 year old, we can consider which person we would prefer to be and why. Once we know this, we move slowly towards considering what we might do.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells another parable. It is a parable about two very different people.
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table
What do we know about these two people?
One person is very poor. His name is Lazarus.
Names are important in the Bible. They tell us:
who someone is;
to whom they belong;
and what they will do.
"Lazarus" means, "God is my help." So, we know:
Lazarus is a man of faith in God;
he belongs to God,
and we are not surprised when Jesus tells us that when he dies, he is,
carried away by the angels to be with Abraham.
Abraham is the first person to listen and know the One True God.
Of course Lazarus is with Abraham. God is Lazarus' help.
What about the other person?
The other person is rich. He does not have a name.
He could be anybody.
He has cut himself off from everyone.
He will do nothing.
And this is true. He does not do anything. Lazarus lies at his gate everyday, hungry and sick, and the rich man does nothing. We are not surprised, then, when Jesus tells us that when the rich man dies,
he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.
Of course. He has cut himself off from everyone.
Why is Jesus telling us this?
Each of us has been named. At our Baptism, when the water is poured over our heads three times, our ears hear the priest calling our name saying,
I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
But whose voice do we hear, deep, deep down inside, in our heart?
Whose voice calls us by name at our Baptism to help build the kingdom of God?
We know who we are.
We know to whom we belong.
We know what we could do.
Do we? What could we do? How can we know?
Jesus tells us this parable so we can know. We know we do not want to be poor and sick like Lazarus. But we also know we do not want to be like the rich man who does nothing. What could the rich man have done?
He could have offered Lazarus food.
He could have offered Lazarus comfort.
He could have offered Lazarus company.
He could have helped Lazarus.
Can we do that? Can we help someone who is hungry or hurting or lonely?
Do we know anyone who needs some help?
When we help someone, we can say a quiet, "thank-you" to God, for giving us this person to help. It is good to be called by name to help build the kingdom!