Thursday of the Second week of Lent

Thursday of the Second week of Lent

What does it mean to be seen? Todays Gospel reading is from Luke 16, where the rich man, who does not have a name, ignores the poor man named Lazarus, lying at his door. The rich man, in his entire splendor, does not see the poor man at his door and as the story goes, ends up spending eternity in torment while Lazarus feasts in the afterlife. Not an easy reading.

One of the books I am reading for Lent, “Days of Deepening Friendship” by Vinita Hapton Wright, writes about being invisible and it struck a chord for me when I was reading todays gospel. Lazarus was invisible to the rich man. I was reminded of different times in my life when I felt invisible. It can be such a lonely and isolating feeling, as well as powerless.

Todays reading also reminds me of a homily reflection I wrote six years ago about “What does it mean to be Rich in God?”

Here is what I wrote:

What does it mean to be rich in God

A few weeks ago, my eight-year-old daughter Kenna and I were driving downtown and as we approached a light to stop, we noticed a woman standing on the street corner. She was holding a sign that read, “Please help. God Bless.” Kenna asked if we could give her money but I had no cash other than 35 cents. I opened my window and as she approached the car, I apologized to her, saying that I only had 35 cents. She gave us a large smile and said, “Thank you! I needed exactly 35 cents to be able to take the bus.” “God Bless you.” My daughter said, “Mom, she is the face of God.” To me, that 35 cents seemed insignificant, but to this woman, it was exactly what she needed in that moment.

We hear many challenging messages in the Gospels about money, possessions and storing our treasures on earth and most of us struggle when we hear these readings. I recently read an article about ways society justifies not giving to the poor. It talked about the increasing numbers of people standing on corners, begging for money. How often do we look at them and made a judgment. “If he has money for cigarettes, he certainly doesn’t need my money.” “She looks young and healthy, why can’t she get a job and work like the rest of us.” “I bet they will just go and by alcohol.” The author referred to these types of thoughts as examples of social sin—thoughts we have that keep the poor in their place and justify our not giving. I certainly have had those thoughts.

For many, these times are not easy. In Minneapolis, each night there are over 10,000 homeless people, more than half are women and children. How often do you see people standing on the corner begging?
Social sin is not an easy concept and makes most of us uncomfortable but ARE we, as the People of God, able to ignore the poor in our communities? Or can we look to them and see, “The Face of God.” It is much easier to drive on by the person in need but will that lead us toward richness in God?

Today’s Gospel challenges us to reconsider our storing of possessions on earth. What if we are satisfied with what we have and rather than build up our own treasures, we look for “The face of God” in the people on the street corners—and gave to the poor in our own community without judging them or if their need was “worthy.”

Maybe then we could begin to discover what it means to be “Rich in God.”

Let us not underestimate the difference that even a mere 35 cents can make to a person in need, the face of God in our own community.

I have not read that reflection for a long time but I thought about it today—and now share it with you.

May we SEE today “The Face of God.”

Blissfully, Susan

3 comments (Add your own)

1. margaret wrote:
good question and I would take it one step further in asking the question: When do we not want to see? Then we have to make a choice to respond or not respond. Like the man at the door, if I do see him, I either have to decide to give and care or else ignore. Obviously seeing makes my responsibility greater but is that what I am being called to?

Thu, March 24, 2011 @ 11:45

2. Kenna Rose wrote:
Hey Mom!
Great post :) This has really made me ponder about some stuff. I'd love to talk about it when we get together.
Very interesting-I remember when you wrote that homily :)
Lot's of love!

Thu, March 24, 2011 @ 11:45

3. AboundingJoy wrote:
What a powerful reminder of who God calls us to be not just during this season of Lent, but always. Let our fast be one of compassion for those in need, followed by action. Let us work diligently to break the bonds of oppression that keep people in a state of hopelessness and social invisibility. Thanks, sis.

Thu, March 24, 2011 @ 11:45

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def. Bliss: -noun Supreme Happiness, Utter Joy/Contentment; the Joy of Paradise!