The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2016 – Cycle C
Amos 6:1a, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31
Don’t stare at me.
The text is from a current television commercial advertising a medication for people suffering from psoriasis. The commercial invites us to encounter people as more than the disease from which they are suffering. “Don’t stare at me.” “Don’t avert your eyes from me. See ME!”
How many people do you and I make invisible by – a turn of the head, a slightly faster gait as we walk by, an averting of our eyes? The presence of certain people subversively challenge us to confront our fears and prejudices; our judgments of other people and our values, if we are willing.
Our world is filled with invisible people.
- The suffering of women and children in sweatshops, who are invisible behind the labels we buy.
- The person, often mentally ill, homeless, a veteran, or all of the above begging with signs and empty coffee cups looking for a handout in the streets of our cities, who are invisible behind our averted, blind eyes and consciences.
- The elderly, often lonely and infirm, cut off from meaningful activities and conversation, who are invisible behind the walls of nursing facilities or their homes.
- The bullied child, the abused spouse, the man or woman who has experienced rape, who are invisible behind a wall of silence.
- The refugee and immigrant, the boat people trying to escape war, who are invisible behind the click as we navigate to a new site or a new channel.
- The person in our family, who is invisible behind our attempts at avoidance.
- The poor, who are invisible behind the comfort and complacency of our home life, entertainments, music and busy-ness.
Consider the invisibility imposed by more and more people shutting out the world walking around with their hearing diminished by ears buds and their sight narrowed to the small rectangle of their phones in the palm of their hand that draws their full attention.
The impassable abyss described by father Abraham that lies between Lazarus and the rich man after death should come as no surprise. The chasm was present in life. The close proximity between the rich man reclined at his dinner table and Lazarus lying at his gate accentuates just how deep this chasm is and has been and how invisible Lazarus is to the rich man. Death has only made the reality of invisibility visible.
Even in death, the rich man speaks of Lazarus in the third person – as if he were not there. “Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water…” “Send him to my father’s house…” “but if someone from the dead goes to them…” Lazarus continues to be invisible. And what is even more poignant, the rich man knows the poor man’s name. He is not just “some guy”; he is Lazarus!
See Me. SEE Me. See ME!
Who have you made invisible?