Do you know Lazarus?
In one of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortations Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), he says that “there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor”. This vibrates all too clearly in this Sunday’s Gospel which tells us of a poor man called Lazarus whose needs were disregarded by his prosperous neighbour.
We all know a Lazarus. He could be our next door neighbour or he could be living in a poverty stricken country, someone we heard about from news reports. But for us who live in wealthy countries like England, it’s all too easy to forget about the poor, those who have less. As Pope Francis says, “Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor … the culture of prosperity deadens us.”
So how do we make ourselves be more aware of the plight of the poor? Well, we tend to care more for people we know personally. So let us get to know the poor, let us start seeing them as people rather than just statistics. Get to know your neighbours. Who are the ones in need at your door? Do you know their names? When you go on holiday abroad, enjoy all the tourist spots by all means. But also take note of the places that are not mentioned in the guide book, where there may be a Lazarus working in unsafe conditions or earning meager wages. And when you do see a Lazarus, remember that he has much to teach us, for in his difficulties he knows the suffering of Christ.
If we do not know the suffering of Christ, we cannot truly call ourselves Christians who love God and neighbour as ourselves.