Who will I be in the end? I was forced to ask myself this question last week. Our Gospel passage in the Catholic Church throughout the world was Luke 16:19-31. It is the story Jesus tells of the rich man and Lazarus.
The story is based on two men. The rich man had every good thing. He had friends, family, homes, money, food, great clothes and a comfortable life.
Lazarus was a poor man who sat at the door of the rich man. He had sores that the dogs licked.
These two men lived very different realities.
They both died in the end. The rich man ended up in the netherworld, “where he was in torment.”
The poor man died and was “carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.”
The realities were suddenly reversed.
Now, the story carries on from there to draw home the point that many will not listen even if someone were to be raised from the dead. Jesus is talking about himself. But, I want to stop right here and ask myself about the rich man and Lazarus. Who am I now; and who will I be in the end?
I ponder the downfall of the rich man. It was his complacency in his comforts that led him to not live for the other. He did not show mercy and generosity. It caused his fall. The great temptation he faced was to live only in his own great comforts. He failed in mercy, it seems to me.
What if mercy had been shown to Lazarus at the door? The end would have been different, it seems.
And so, I ask the Lord, who is the Lazarus at my doorstep? Lord, to whom must I show mercy and love? I know in my heart there are times I want to ignore the poor person at the door of my heart; the one who wants to know mercy and love.
What stops me? It is usually my pride. It is my selfishness. It is my wanting to protect myself. I don’t want to end up with sores!
I need to extend the hand of generous mercy. No matter the background, illness or sin that surround the sores I struggle seeing and accepting. As a Christian man, and as a priest of Jesus Christ, I am to reach out of myself first in mercy and love. It is then that the wounded heart can be healed. Lazarus … I am sorry.
Lord, help me to extend first the hand of mercy and healing that you have extended to me. Make me not blind to the Lazarus at my doorstep; the one who wants to be forgiven, the one who wants to be reconciled.
Who will I be in the end? I hope Lazarus, the poor man. I hope I am poor and sore in the end. I hope it is because I gave everything in mercy.
I think I said it last time … pray with me. Pray with one another. May we reach out our hearts and hands in mercy, the divine mercy that flows from the heart of Christ.
May God bless you and may Jesus Christ be praised.