Even if he could, Abraham won’t let Lazarus return to the place of his traumatic suffering just to warn those who will only ignore him of their impending doom. The rich brothers have already heard his message through their law and their prophets, and they only hear what they want to hear. They refuse inconvenient, uncomfortable teachings that challenge them. Do we ignore these harsh warnings, too? Ignorance is no excuse for our misdeeds, especially in this internet age when information is more accessible than ever. Even those of us who mean well are accountable for the consequences of our actions and our neglect of those in need.
How do we overlook the poor or benefit from their status? When we learn about the people suffering in sweat shops or in distribution centers, do we still demand the cheap fashions and updated electronics they produce or deliver? Do we change our purchasing habits when we discover that inflated diamond prices empower corrupt governments in West African nations to oppress their own citizens? When have we helped only enough to make ourselves feel good, but not enough to make a real difference in someone’s suffering?
Our world is broken in so many ways. But God, who faithfully works to redeem the world’s pain, invites us to participate in healing the hurt and bridging the chasms that divide us. We join this life-giving work when we refuse to let our pleasure come at the expense of someone else’s suffering. Through Moses, the prophets, and the Messiah, God compels us to live differently.
What is one form of human suffering I could learn more about and take action to change?
God, have mercy on us for the ways our society exploits your children. Give us courage to forgo our comforts for the sake of your beloveds. Amen.