While I was in my religion class we read the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus. (Luke 16: 19-31) In the story the rich man has everything he needs and wants in life, and Lazarus has nothing. The rich man doesn’t notice or help him. When lazarus dies, he is welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven, and Lazarus sees him from Hell, and regrets his sins. Later our teacher taught us to not be like the rich man, to notice and help others, which was all cliché and fine.
Days later I was thinking about The Rich Man and Lazarus when our priest reflected on the same story in mass the following Sunday. He told us a slightly different perspective, that you can’t always notice that you’re the Lazarus. He told us to keep looking for ways to help others and that each little thing counts. I liked his explanation a little better, yet it was still all cliché and fine.
While I was praying the next week on my own time, I started thinking again about Lazarus. What if my priest was right? Was I failing to notice other’s begging for help? Lazarus didn’t have a particularly difficult life on Earth, and I didn’t feel like I did either. I lived in such a privileged part of the world, never worried about food or money, and volunteered occasionally, but what if that really wasn’t enough? It scared me at first, to think that I had been so clueless. I decided to directly thank God for everything I had, apologize for what I had not done, and ask for help to succeed in the future. I felt my heart beating so fast in my chest. This was definitely not what my religion teacher and priest had intended for me to feel. I felt almost like crying, which had never really happened before. I tried to calm down and kept praying and thinking. It took me a while, but I finally came to conclusion on what the story was truly telling.
I shouldn’t have been focusing on the negative, the story isn’t just about the rich man, I mean, Lazarus is happy in the end. There is a good side to every story, yet sometimes the bad is so much easier for the eye to see. There were two things that led the rich man to Hell. It wasn’t just that he had an easy life, but he refused to see an alternative, he refused to accept that his life could be in any way like Lazarus’s. If he had turned to God, asked him for forgiveness, God would have helped him to help others. God does have a plan for us all, and he won’t abandon us even if we make mistakes. I learned to ask God for help, to ask him for ways that I can help others. It’s okay to feel like life is easy sometimes, but when that pride shades our vision of the real world, that others lives aren’t as easy as yours, is where we can lead to sin. And that’s what happened to the rich man.