There are many things in life that are obvious and go unnoticed. Like the man who shaves his beard and nobody notices. The woman who changes her hairstyle and her husband does not notice it for days. The friend who paints his house but you do not notice until he asks if you like the new color.
The story that Jesus tells in the Gospel about a rich man who ignored a poor man named Lazarus is a story about the obvious going unnoticed (Luke 16:19-31). The story describes the poverty stricken Lazarus, covered with sores, who is hanging out at the gates of a rich man’s mansion. Lazarus’ presence is so obvious that even the dogs notice him and lick his sores. Yet, even though he was very out of place in that fancy neighborhood, the wealthy owner of the mansion paid no attention to him. He did not notice Lazarus’ desperation, his hunger, his wounded body or the indignity of his situation.
The Gospel story beckons us to think about what is going on in our lives and in our world that is obvious that we are not noticing. In our own personal lives, perhaps a son or daughter who is in pain, a marriage that is in trouble, a friend who is pursuing a dangerous lifestyle, a next door neighbor who could use some help, a decline in our physical health or a spiritual life that is fading away. In the bigger world, the erosion of respect for the dignity of the human person brought on by reality TV, bullying through social media, destruction of people’s reputation through gossip based entertainment and politics that thrive on name calling rather than solution seeking.
Someone once said, “Once you have seen, you can never not see.” When the rich man finally noticed Lazarus after they both died, he could never not see a poor, suffering person again. The busyness of our lives and preoccupation with our own personal concerns can make that which is obvious, go unnoticed. What is it time to see, what is it time to notice? When we finally notice, when at last we see, we will never not see again.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector