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At His Gate A Poor Man

For those of you who are used to wearing designer labels and dining in restaurants with Michelin stars and Gault Millau points, the Gospel for the 26th Sunday OT might make you feel uncomfortable. Jesus tells the Pharisees a story of a rich man who wears nice clothes and dines lavishly while a man named Lazarus lies at the door. Lazarus is hungry and begs for table scraps. The rich man turns a blind eye. This story does not attack the rich man’s wealth, he was attacked because he did not care.

Complacency and the Blind Eye

What’s important to Jesus is whether a person cares or not. The rich man had become complacent. Complacency usually begins by having too much or just enough of everything. When we are complacent, we become blind to the injustices around us. Three years ago I went on a tour to Southeast Anatolia. I spoke to our community about my experience and it brought tears to my eyes. That region is known as the cradle of Christianity, rich with Biblical history. The news of what continues to happen in that part of the world is heartbreaking. Christians, or anyone for that matter, all over the world who are murdered for their beliefs, makes no sense at all. And what do we do? We, as Christians, can exercise our faith without fear of being persecuted. We can live in freedom. The people who live in the birthplace of Christianity are firmly convinced that their faith will die. Bishop Thimoteos of the Mor Gabriel Monastery in Anatolia, one of the oldest monasteries of Christianity, told me that sooner or later we will face the same challenges they do and we will have no way to fight against it. I will never forget the look in his eyes when he said: “You western Christians are complacent and your faith is dull.”

Homework

Dear friends, at our doorsteps lay many beggars. They may not look like Lazarus, but like him they are in need: in some way they are suffering. They don’t ask for money or a donation. They ask for something much more precious - they ask for our time, our compassion - for understanding. They ask for our love. Will we turn a blind eye?

Fr. Urs