The account of the raising of Lazarus provides us with an insight into the Lord’s love for him and his sisters, Martha and Mary. Yet as we enter into the eleventh chapter of John’s Gospel, we discover that this passage applies directly to our lives as well.
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man pokes at our consciences. Do we see the poverty around us and respond with compassion? We know the teaching of Jesus…may we ask the Lord for the grace to put His words into practice.
The miracle of Lazarus reveals the power of Jesus Christ and the hope we have in the Lord. May these matters of life and death inspire us to respond to the needs of our world with conviction and compassion.
Let’s take a step back and look at the these readings:
1st – Ezekiel tells the people that the Lord will give them his spirit to rise from their graves
Psalm – “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”
2nd – St Paul states that we will rise from the dead because the Spirit is in us
Gospel – Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead
Life and death. Throughout the readings this week these powerful realities weave together, reminding us that how we live and face our death has eternal consequences.
Throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus he consistently taught that our lives provide precious opportunities to serve and care for one another. Forgiveness, mercy, compassion, service, healing and outreach to the poor are themes that surface repeatedly throughout the Gospels. WHAT we do and HOW we do it reveal the depth of our discipleship and our willingness to follow the Lord through this life.
Yet we also know that death is an experience that comes to us all. We have stood at the graves of our loved ones, grieved for those who have gone before us, and dealt with the ache in our hearts when someone we care about is no longer with us. Death reminds us that our opportunity to share our lives on earth has a limit, that we only have so much time on this rock before we are called into eternity.
And the fact that something awaits us after death is a conviction that shapes both how we live and die. God gives us immortal souls, created to be united in the great Heavenly chorus. Yet even this is a choice; out of love the Lord gives us the freedom to choose…will we follow the Lord or a different path?
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus speaks timelessly to our modern day culture. Without a doubt we can all acknowledge the many, many ways that we have been materially blessed in our country, and this parable invites us to pay careful attention to how we respond to the needs of those who struggle for the basic necessities of life.
Let’s face it: there are way too many people living in desperate circumstances. Some are within our own communities and countless millions suffer needlessly because they do not have adequate food, clothing, or shelter. With so much need in the world we can sometimes become overwhelmed. Where to start? How can our little bit help when the need is so great?
And perhaps that’s the key – that we start with something within our reach. Perhaps we have a connection close at hand that provides us with opportunities to make a difference (no matter how big or small) in the lives of others.
That leaves us with two simple questions to consider today:
Where do we see obvious need in our world right now?
Is there a practical and direct way that we can help?
As disciples of Jesus Christ we cannot close our eyes to the needs of the poor, and if we cannot solve all the world’s problems at least we can seek out ways to be part of a solution for someone. Also, it’s always good to remember that whatever gift we give, God will take it and bless it in ways we cannot imagine.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus offer insights into how we live. By putting our trust in God and using the ordinary tools of faith, we find the grace we need to journey through this life until we reach Heaven.
The well known parable of the rich man and Lazarus offers a powerful reminder that we have been given what we need to know the Lord. May we draw up these great gifts: Church teaching, Scripture, Sacraments, Prayer, Fellowship, and the example of the Saints!