So school has been on for a couple weeks now, and all my kids are finally in full day school which just reminds me that as my kids grow older, so do I. It’s almost weird to see how much my daughter has matured for just the few weeks that she’s been in kindergarten. The other day she comes up to me out of the blue and says, “Dad, I’m growing up… I’m gonna be like… 6”.
As a parent, I take notice of these things because I’m around and these are my kids that I love. But when I see my friend’s kids (like we did yesterday at a birthday dinner), I didn’t notice anything about them. Sure, they look older from when I last saw them, but over all, they’re exactly the same. I don’t know what is going on in their lives. I don’t know how they’re liking school or even what school they are going to. I don’t know their interests, their frustrations, and I barely know how old they are.
I did, however, notice that one of the kids wasn’t feeling well. From his mom wiping his nose, him being really fidgety, and basically not having a good time at dinner, I could tell that this kid was sick. Also, his dad said straight out, “my kid is sick”, so that gave me a pretty good clue.
We don’t always notice the lives of other people (or their kids). We don’t always pay attention to their needs or hurts or pains. Because we don’t notice them, we won’t do anything about them. But perhaps we should notice, as we’ll see in next week’s readings, which are:
Amos 6:1a, 4-7
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Here we have the very famous parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Many times in the past we may have heard it interpreted as proof of a heaven and hell and the fact that once we are in one of them, there is no going to the other. The fear of the finality of our end has what sent people “scared straight” for probably centuries.
And while that might not be a bad thing, I think the point of this story is more about how the rich name (ironically unnamed) hadn’t noticed Lazarus even when Lazarus literally sat at his front gate for an undetermined amount of time. Even in the realm of death, he doesn’t really notice Lazarus but rather talks to Abraham about him, giving him commands and worrying only about his own well-being and comfort. Abraham refuses the rich man, saying that a great chasm is between them and nothing can cross it.
That is where many find the “proof” of a heaven and a hell. But I think this chasm is just the rich man’s inability to notice, his inability to see beyond himself and his own needs, his inability to care for anyone who isn’t himself (or perhaps of his same status). This is a difficult chasm to cross for any of us, to learn to care for those who aren’t in our normal circles and reach.
But by the grace of God, we can do it. We can learn to care. We can learn to see. We can learn to notice those in the world who are in need.
And when we notice, we can do something about it. When we notice, we can contribute to better of society. When we notice, we can make a difference.
Have a great week, everyone!