Faith Matters: The Lazarus’s of the world: A call for compassion

  • The Rev. Father Robert Koerber with the new Goshen Stone altar for outdoor services at the Holy Name of Jesus Church in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Pastor, Holy Name of Jesus Church
Published: 9/25/2022 5:05:11 PM
Modified: 9/25/2022 5:04:22 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

By THE REV. FR. ROBERT M. KOERBER

I consider Sunday’s Gospel about Lazarus as one of the most meaningful stories of the New Testament, for I believe that this parable of Jesus represents a core teaching of His ministry — a call for compassion.

You know that whenever this rabbi from Galilee taught, He offered not only moral teachings, but also deeper spiritual insights into the kingdom of God. In this story, our Lord addresses the Pharisees, who could be said to represent the “rich man.”

We learn that Lazarus was a poor man who was so destitute that he laid at the door of a rich man who, Luke records Jesus as saying, “one who was dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.” Not only did Lazarus hunger, but he also had sores, a possible sign of malnutrition, leading to his condition. We further read that Lazarus would have eaten whatever scraps fell from the table of the “rich man,” and was probably in competition with the dogs for scraps as they licked his sores.

You know, there are so many Lazarus’s in today’s world and there are so many of the rich who think only about their own excesses. Do you know that in Hinduism and Buddhism the cause of all suffering is desire, self-attachment and ignorance?

I think of the current problem of the countless immigrants who are striving to make a better life for themselves and their families. Everyone knows that the immigration problem here has existed for decades, and everyone knows that the problem is getting worse and needs to be resolved. But I also believe that the answer is not in using immigrants as “political pawns” for those who indiscriminately send people to unannounced locations without providing them with the basics. The recent “shipment” of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard shows what compassion should look like, providing food, clothing and a genuine concern for others.

The other focus of this story is about the judgment of Lazarus and the rich man and should remind each of us of our own judgment. For so many, their concerns do not go beyond their own lives. We see the selfishness and greed and I am reminded of what someone once said to me, that “the rich will never give up their homes in the Hamptons.” Although none of us can individually solve the world’s problems of hunger and poverty, there is a need for those who can’t seem to get enough, to examine themselves, instead of discarding whatever “scraps” are left to the destitute of our world. It is a call for justice.

We read about the judgment of the rich man who begged for mercy, even a drop of water to soothe his suffering.

From the Nicaean Creed, written and compiled in 325 A.D., we read that: “(Jesus) suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.”

In the Nicaean Creed we see a “righteous” judgment, of the “karma” of one’s thoughts, words and actions. The great spiritual teachers, throughout the millenniums, have taught of such a judgment day.

Jesus concludes this story with the agony of the rich man who wanted to warn his five brothers of their coming judgment with these words: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

There will be those who will ignore all wisdom, but there will be others who see the wisdom of Jesus as found in Matthew 25:40 that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.”

About Holy Name of Jesus PNC Church

Holy Name of Jesus PNC Church is at 15 Thayer St. in South Deerfield. We are a family-oriented church established in 1929 by a community of parishioners whose legacy of spiritual freedom is still with us after 80 years. We are a democratic, non-papal Catholic parish, family-oriented, with a Liturgical worship style. Follow us on Facebook. 413-665-2129.


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