Date: Sunday, September 29, 2019
In Thursday’s (9/26/19) Family Circus cartoon, the mom and three of her children are looking at a man sleeping on a park bench covered with newspaper and resting his head on a sack with his belongings. Dolly asks: “But if he doesn’t have a home, how can his children come for a visit?” When we see someone living on the street we don’t think of his or her family or his or her story. When I travel, we do see people living on the street or begging. I may smile, nod my head and walk by. I have never asked a street person/beggar his or her name! How would I feel if a beggar ever called my name?
As we continue listening to the Gospel according to St. Luke, we hear Jesus telling a story about a rich man who dresses in purple linen and dines sumptuously and lying at his door is a poor man covered with sores who gladly would have eaten scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Dogs even come to lick his sores. When the poor man dies, he is carried to the bosom of Abraham. When the rich man dies, he is buried. From the netherworld, he sees Abraham and the poor man at his side and cries out: “Father Abraham have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am suffering badly.” The unnamed rich man knows the name of the poor man Lazarus!
Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus is the prophetic utterance of Amos (first reading) made into a story. “’Woe to the complacent in Zion,’ for that complacency is not only a refusal to share material goods, it is a self-obsession, a total ignoring of someone, a giving-up on another as unworthy to exist.” (Magnificat, 9/29/19, p. 391)
St. Paul writes to Timothy: “But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” These words “of ordination” are commissioning Timothy to live his calling i.e. the “noble confession” that he made at baptism. “The King of kings and Lord of lords” knows us by name in Christ, and lovingly calls us to minister to the poor and needy even those ignored on park benches. On Friday we celebrated the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. He grew up in poverty, escaped it by becoming a priest, and then rediscovered his priesthood, God’s tender mercy, in and with the poor. With St. Louise de Marillac he founded the Daughters of Charity to gives their lives to the care of the marginalized.
Next time you or I see a street person, may we recognize our own humanity and see Jesus in one of his best disguises.