The Poor Man with a Name (Luke 16:19-31)

This week we consider not only what it means to be rich or poor, but also the interaction between both groups of people right here in our own community.

What I’ve noticed about the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is that it doesn’t only talk about poverty and riches, illness and health. It also says something about human relationships. Did you notice that between the rich man and the poor man the guy with the name is the POOR man, Lazarus? We expect that having enough money that a person could eat, sleep, and live securely would bring with it a name, or at least a permanent address. It appears to be otherwise. In Jesus’ story it’s the poor and wound-infested man, the one who (for whatever reason) was overlooked by the man of means throughout both their earthly lives whom we come to know by name. Maybe there’s a message for us in that.

There are many designations that fly around in this election year: Democrats, Republicans, Independents. There are many causes that people are passionate about in a week that has seen even more tragic deaths arise in interactions between the police of our nation and citizens who are people of color: Black Lives Matter…Blue Lives Matter. Do we see ALL people of our community as people who have a name? Do we understand that we are not only called to preach Christ but to also model Christ, lending a hand and also being a neighbor to those in need with humble, and repentant hearts?

Lazarus, it turns out, means “helped by God.” We dare not conclude from Jesus’ story that the way to heaven is to be financially poor. Nor dare we think only the rich are selfish and uncaring. The way to heaven for both rich and poor and everyone in-between is to be “helped by God.” Hearing the Word of God and repenting today, may we find new and unexpected ways not only to remember the names of those in our community but to be a true neighbor and friend to someone in need.