John Everett Millais (1829-1896) The Pharisee and the Publican, 1864 The Tate
Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
What a hook! I want to find out if I am one of those to whom Jesus is addressing this parable.
And yes: often I am the self-righteous one who compares myself favorably to others and wonders why others don’t act, think, and speak as I do.
But now and again I become aware of my arrogance and face my failures, weaknesses, and woundedness. In these moments of truth, I dare to ask God’s mercy so that I may instead act, think, and speak with the mind and heart of Jesus Christ.
For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. Habakkuk 2:3
Despite the grief of living in a world where injustice, indifference, and greed seem to hold sway, our efforts to treat others with respect, share our resources, and speak out against prejudice and cruelty help to build God’s vision of love and unity among all people everywhere.
With just the tiniest bit of faith that the God of Love and Compassion is present and accessible in every moment — guiding us, encouraging us — we continue to play an active role as a part of the vision.
Lawrence W. Ladd (fl.1865-1895) Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus watercolor and pencil on paper, ca.1880 Smithsonian American Art Museum
[Jesus said to the Pharisees:] “And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.” Luke 16:20-21
Today I will intentionally look at the people around me. I will take time to notice that we are all children of God in need of love and attention. I will bring a compassionate heart and helping hands to those in need of comfort and care.
Sébastien Dusart L’Enfant prodigue, de Félix Desruelles, Valenciennes (1899)
There is so much unsaid in the story of the father and his two sons. Why was the younger son so eager to get away from home, but expecting his father’s wealth to support him? Why did the father let him go without any lessons in money management? Was the younger son repentant or an opportunist? Would the warm and forgiving welcome of his father change him for the better?
Why did the older son let resentment about how his father treated him build ? Was it loyalty and custom that made him stay working for someone he resented? What was the real core of the anger he felt towards his brother?
Why hadn’t the father told the older son that everything of his belonged to him? Was the father generous or withholding?
Human relationships thrive on respectful, compassionate communication. We can never know the motives or thoughts of others unless we ask. We can never know our own motives until we take the time to examine our thoughts, behaviors, and actions in humility.
Today I will pray for enlightenment about how I relate with others. I will risk being vulnerable by communicating my thoughts and feelings with someone trustworthy.
Ion Chibzii “Grief” (70th years) 12 June 2011, 20:50
In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. Psalm 90:1
We carry a cross of grief throughout our lives. To live with our grief requires courage and compassion. When we accept the moments of anger, resentment, finger-pointing, forcing solutions, and depression as symptoms, we dare to identify the source of our grief: the death of loved ones, disillusionment with government, church, and community leaders, being the target of prejudice, racism, violence, and injustice, illness, loss of employment and income, the frailties that come with aging, unfulfilled dreams. Grief challenges us every day, individually and collectively.
Lord, help me identify the source of the grief in my life. Grace me with the courage to be honest about my emotions and accountable for them. Shelter me with your love and compassion as I grieve. Bless me with great compassion for all who grieve.
The Good Samaritan After William Hogarth (British, London 1697–1764 London) Etching and engraving, February 24, 1772 Metropolitan Museum of Art
[Jesus replied,] “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
[The scholar] answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
It’s a directive from the Lord: Treat my neighbor with mercy. That means extending compassion to someone who is suffering; listening when someone needs to talk; visiting someone who is lonely; feeding someone who is hungry.
It’s about noticing others. It’s about paying attention. It’s about letting go of indifference. It’s about taking care of you and me and all of us — precious members of God’s beloved human family.