Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
I was there yesterday. The Grand Final, that is. Someone graciously offered me a ticket in the stands, so I got to experience the full throttled version of AFL at its year-ending peak. I have nothing profound to offer about the game itself – as with all games, one team won (by a mammoth margin); another team lost. What a do want to mention this morning, however, was a brief conversation I overheard while I was walking home.
Among the many groups of families and friends making their way home, a passed by a dad having a chat with his two young boys, who were perhaps six and seven. I only caught a small snippet of their conversation, but it was rememberable. Their dad was helping them to understand what they had just experienced, and especially how they might appreciate what they had been a part of. It was a quiet, calm and tender moment – a father attentive to his sons in an otherwise unremarkable moment.
As I passed, I saw the face of one of the boys looking up to his dad, rapped in what he was saying. He may never remember the content of their conversation in years to come, but I bet he will remember the experience of being loved by his father.
It was not Lazarus’ lot to be tenderly loved during his life. As Jesus tells the story, Lazarus was someone who had not experienced the care of another, especially his un-named rich neighbour, who failed to even feed him along with the dogs. It is not as if the rich man did not know Lazarus; he certainly remembered his name after their fortunes had been reversed in death. It is the rich man’s callous inattentiveness that Jesus makes so noticeable in the parable. And we might all want to hope that we would similarly notice this appalling situation.
But perhaps we might all need to look a little closer, for there are others in this story. It is not only the inattentiveness of the rich man that counts for Jesus. It is also his brothers, whom the parable portrays as living similarly selfish and myopic lives.
Not only do they live lives what would fail to see Lazarus, they also would fail to see the Prophets who had previously spoken to them, and even the dead, who might come back into their lives. To fail to see the small, or the broken, or the wounded, or the lost among us, and in not seeing, fail to be attentive and tender to them, we allow ourselves to be identified as family members of the rich man.
Lazarus is the one Jesus called by name so that we would remember him by name as one of God’s little ones. But just how good are we at remembering his name? Have I – have you – become like the rich man; too pre-occupied with getting ahead in life to notice the neighbours around us? Do we notice the voice of him who has risen from the dead and who reminds us of Lazarus’ name?
To paraphrase the warning fro our first reading, “Woe to those ensconced so snuggly in Zion (or the Melbourne lifestyle)… but about the ruin of Joseph (or Justin or Julie) they do not care at all.”
It is a telling thing if we have forgotten that God holds tenderly to himself each of his little ones. Like that dad who – in a moment of grace – held tenderly to himself his boys on the way home from the footy grand final, may we learn to live our lives as graced moments of life and love.