Jesus said, “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; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers– that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”
The OfferingFrom Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers
As you study this picture, don’t look inside right away… look at the concrete porch, especially that little corner under the mailbox. Many people have slept in that corner. I woke a bunch of them up myself, on the days I’d open the coffee shop at 6:15 a.m.
Businesses hate having homeless people set up camp in their doorways. No one wants their lunch customers to have to step over a smelly, ratty human being on their way in – it’s not hospitable. I get that; decisions have to be made about how to help customers feel safe and welcome – plus there are many ways to help the poor other than letting them sleep at your doorstep.
But Jesus’ parable of the Rich man and Lazarus reminds us to be very, very careful when we make such decisions. There are serious and eternal consequences for how we treat the poor who are part of our daily lives. We won’t always get it right, that’s for sure. But this parable is a sobering reminder to me to try to err on the side of generosity.