Here’s a bit of Bible trivia for you: There is only one person in the parables of Jesus who is given a name. Do you know who it is? Think about for a minute.
Do you know the story of Lazarus and the rich man? Lazarus is a poor beggar who lies at the gate of the rich man’s home, hoping to grab a few “crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table.” Interestingly enough, it is not the rich man who has a name, but the poor, crippled beggar. Even more interesting, the name Lazarus means “the one who God helps.”
It seems like Jesus got the names mixed up in the story. At least at first glance, the rich man is the one that God helps, and Lazarus is the one God forgot. But then the tables get turned. Lazarus dies and “the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.” The rich man dies and winds up “in Hell, where he was in torment.”
I guess Lazarus was the one who God helped.
Here is a question though: how does Jesus know that Hell is where the rich man is going to end up? Is it just because he is rich? I certainly hope not, because if that’s the case, we’re all in trouble. If you have a computer on which to read this blog, you are almost certainly among the wealthiest 2% of all the people who have ever lived in the world. If wealth condemns to Hell, that’s where we are all headed.
Instead, I think the answer to the question comes back to the “least of these” passage that is at the top of this blog. The part of that passage not quoted goes like this: “Depart from me you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.”
Do we take Jesus seriously today? When the least of these are hoping to pick up the crumbs that fall from the Church’s table, I wonder what kind of gospel we are preaching.
Are you feeling a little uncomfortable? I hope so.