LAZARUS AT OUR
Don’t you just get
sick and tired of people banging on about the poor, about now needy they are, how desperate their plight. Talk
about asylum-seekers is especially annoying, especially since we can’t seem to find a way to deal with them and
get them off our TV screens.
wearing when we have to keep hearing of their arrival off our shores and just as annoying hearing people going
on and on about their rights and how poorly we are treating them. People become so moralistic and high and
mighty when talking about these people.
One way to “stop
the boats” that is being considered apparently by our new government is simply to cease reporting their arrival
each time a new boatload of people appear on our radar. That should
Then there are the
poor who are already in our midst, the homeless, single parents, many of our indigenous Australians, people with
disabilities and their carers, many elderly people and so it goes.
All these people
are a drain on society in some way, and often enough are the cause of annoyance, embarrassment or anger when
they intrude into our world too immediately.
Poor people have
as part of their job description if you like, the task of making us feel uncomfortable. We don’t know just how
to respond to them. Nor do we know what they are going to ask of us and this in itself makes us
This week the
Australian Catholic Bishops have offered us yet another opportunity to be annoyed by the poor, with their Social
Justice Statement for 2013-4, “Lazarus at our Gate.”
pricking from these “ecclesiastical do-gooders” will either make us cranky or just tired of the constant
reminders we get about the poor among and around us.
What are we to
Well, we could try
to hide from all this news and shrink back into our own little igloo where life is under control, comfortable
and not so bothersome.
We could turn our
weariness and annoyance into something more fruitful. We could listen more deeply and attentively than we have
ever done before and find some practical way to respond to the plight of those in need.
We could do more
than simply salve our guilty conscience by making a donation or two, and we could seek some way of accompanying
someone who is in special need.
possible that we are not annoyed at all by the plight of the poor, and like the Lord whose love is sung in the
Psalms, we already “hear the cry of the poor.” Already we may be doing a great deal to support those in need,
perhaps quietly and with great generosity.
In that case, we
could spend some energy encouraging others to do the same.
Sharing what we
have is a great liberating experience. We are less and less frightened of losing what we have because we are
more focused on sharing it in the first place.
Our hearts become
free to love, and our only anger or annoyance is caused by the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters
have little or no hope of living a free, healthy productive life.
We find ourselves
hurting on behalf of those who have no one to cry for them.
We find ourselves
listening to Jesus’ voice with fresh ears as he urges us to look after each other especially those who are poor
and in need.
Let’s pray for one
another this Social Justice Weekend, for hearts that will release new hope and new justice for
against destitution is not enough. It is a question rather of building a world where every person can live a
fully human life, and where the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the table with the rich man.” Pope Paul