Who Is Your Lazarus?

Homily for Thursday of the Second Week in Lent

Some of you know that I was asked to participate in the virtual Lenten Retreat with Pray More Novenas, a great resource for Catholic prayers and novenas for throughout the liturgical year. (More information on the retreat is available here: www.praymoreretreat.org.) One of the talks for the retreat is on this specific reading from the Gospel of Luke, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

One of the things that I always find myself asking when I read this parable is: who are the people in my life that I treat like Lazarus? And I pose that question to all of us today: who is your Lazarus? It may not be someone sitting right outside of your front door, but every single one of us has at least one person in our lives that we really struggle to love with Christian charity.

Jesus uses the parable to criticize the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the Jewish people for failing to live up to the standards that they themselves place on the people, they are failing to live up to the standard of being the examples for the rest of the community. In fact, in many ways, they’re living the exact opposite of how they should be living. Jesus is pointing out how the Pharisees are so focused on carrying out the appropriate ritual practices and following the Law so zealously that they are failing to see those who were right in front of them. They were failing to take care of those whom God had put right in front of their faces. They were failing to see God. They were so focused on minute details that they ended up missing the bigger picture.

How do we fall into the same trap? Our motivation isn’t zealously following ritual practices and guidelines, but in many ways we often struggle to love those in our lives that the Lord puts on our doorsteps. Who is your Lazarus?

Who are those people that we struggle to love? This is a question that I also asked in my homily on Monday. Who is someone that we really struggle to love and therefore give ourselves permission to judge and disregard? Maybe it’s someone in our family or friend group, someone who has a different ideology about the future, a person who refuses to wear a mask, or a person who chooses to wear a mask…who is your Lazarus?

Jesus doesn’t want our story to end like the Rich Man’s story. It is not too late for us…yet!  God is giving us time and opportunities to make right the ways in which we have been unloving and indifferent to the needs of others. We’ve experienced the love and mercy of God and now we’re called to bring that same love and mercy to others, especially those whom it is difficult for us to love.

Photo: Jacopo BassanoLazarus and the Rich Man; WikiCommons

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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