10-13-13: Willful Ignorance

This week's scripture reading comes from the Gospel of Luke and recounts the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man eats sumptuously every day while Lazarus lays starving and dying outside his gate. Both men die, and while Lazarus is carried by the angels to be with Abraham, the rich man is buried and finds himself in torment in Hades. When the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to comfort him in his distress, Abraham informs him that there is a chasm between them that cannot be breached. This is a distressing parable for those of us who are comfortable now while actively ignoring and refusing to help those in need around us. It is instructive that Lazarus is the only character in all of Jesus' parables that is given a name: a name meaning "God helps." While the parable suggests that God helps Lazarus after he is dead, I think the deeper meaning is that Lazarus was there to help the rich man while he was alive - help the rich man ignored to his peril. God sends us prophets and messengers all the time. Will we listen, or will we find ourselves on the wrong side of the chasm?