I have named this Courage and Compassion because this it is what it takes to respond to this Gospel. We have heard this story many, many times about the rich man dressed in purple and the man named Lazarus begging outside of his gate. It seems that there is a clear cut answer what the rich man should have done: feed Lazarus. And, it is true. But there is much more to this story. We, too, can be like the rich man in his purple velvet clothes without even realizing it.
This week I was sitting outside on a blanket with my granddaughter, Sophia. She saw so many things that I did not see. She picked up leaves, looked at ants crawling around, heard an airplane fly over head and saw squirrels running around the yard. I was so used to seeing these things that I hardly noticed them. She had a fresh new way of seeing that made me aware that we need to look at the story of Lazarus and the rich man in a new way as well.
I propose that we open our eyes in new ways so we can see the wounds, the concerns, the heartbreak, and the needs of the people close to us and even far away.
Seeing means that we have to really look at people and see them. Instead of giving people a cursory look and then walking by them we have to be on the lookout for people who are not acting right, who appear sad and lonely, who have physical limitations, and those people who we have not seen for a long time.
Let me give you an example. All of you have noticed about my lack of mobility when I walk up the altar steps. My neighbor, Bob, noticed it when I was outside walking. He was very observant and saw my difficulty in walking and just started one day mowing my grass. Without me ever asking him, he helped me. He just saw there was something wrong with me and wanted to help.
A friend of mine likes to go to McDonalds for coffee. She saw that there was a woman who always sat alone. Bridget went to her table and sat down and began a conversation with her. She found out that this woman was poor and came into McDonalds for a coffee because she was lonely. Bridget has gone back to the restaurant many times to minister to this woman and to buy her some food at times. This sounds simple and it is but it takes courage to go start a conversation with someone you do not even know. What we all need to have is the courage to see things in a different way and go forward.
I have noticed that sometimes when I hurry and hurry to get things done I am not aware of the people around me. When I think of my granddaughter, Sophia, she is joyful and aware of the things happening to the world around her. Perhaps we should make a pledge to not let one day go by that we look around at others carefully to see if we give encouragement, support, or even a smile.
All of you have seen the pictures from Syria and the terrible plight of the refuges. Rather that turning off the news I suggest that we look with new eyes to see the dead bodies from shelling and poisonous gas. These pictures are hard to look at; but we must. I would like to suggest that we think about the concern of people all over the world. Every day I receive letters from charitable organizations asking for monetary help. I know that most of us do not have a lot of extra funds lying around. Money is tight in most of our families. Could we pledge individually to give $5.00 a month to a charity that helps the poor and needy of the world? $5.00 is not a big deal to most of us but it is a big deal to children in refugee camps that are hungry for food. We have a responsibility to the world's poor as well as a responsibility to our own families. Perhaps your family could decide together where you could send a monetary gift to a specific organization. God is asking us to go within ourselves and find ways to help women, children, and families in other parts of the world.
Compassion and courage are needed during these times when there is a great deal of need in our families, our community, the United States and the world. It is difficult to see poverty, loneliness, and discouragement when people often are embarrassed to ask for help. We need the help of God to open our eyes to see the needs that are around us. Then we need the courage to go forth and try to help others when we, too, might be embarrassed to act. Courage from within is all that God is asking us do. God will give us the eyes to see what is needed to be done and the means to do it. We will see with new eyes and be grateful.