Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Lazarus

by Fyodor Bronnikov
Picture source.

Today's Magnificat's meditation was a commentary by St. Jerome.

St. Jerome begins by explaining that Jesus' names Lazarus by name because he is a saint. We do not know the rich man's name. Lazarus' name means one who has been helped by God. The rich man is not condemned because he was avarice, or adultery, etc. but because of the sin of pride!
"...Most wretched of men, you see a member of your own body lying there outside at your gate, and have you no compassion? If the precepts of God mean nothing to you, at least take pity on your own plight, and be in fear lest you become such as he. Why do you save what is superfluous to your pleasures? Give in alms to your own m ember what you waste. I am not telling you to throw away your wealth. What you throw out, the crumbs from your table, offer as alms...

...If your eyes disdained to look upon putrid flesh, did not your ears, at least, hear his plea? "Who lay at his gate, covered with sores." He did not have just one sore, his whole body was sores, so that the magnitude of his suffering might arouse your utmost compassion.

- St. Jerome

It was very powerful and it touched me deeply.  You see, I have my own Lazarus.  It is a homeless lady.  She has lived on the street for as long as I have lived here.  Now she is wheelchair bound.  We have come to know each other from walking my dog around the neighborhood.  She is dirty, smelly and her legs are covered with sores and they are swollen.  This is what life on the street does to people.  Sometimes she is very friendly and we chat about my dog and she gives me advice.  Sometimes she is angry and defensive.  She has yelled at me to get away from her on a couple of times, when I tried to help her.  I do not take it personally.  No, it is not the smell or her occasional unfriendliness that makes me avoid her.  I avoid her because she keeps asking me to help her find a home.  I don't know how to tell her that where she wants to live is not possible for her. I do not want to dash her hopes.  I avoid her because she offers me clothes to wear that she carries in her bags.  I avoid her because I don't want to take the time to speak to a lonely woman.  So I take the cowardly way out and cross the street when I see her.  That is until today.

After Mass this morning and hearing the Gospel of the day, I looked for my Lazarus.  I couldn't find her.  Her little cart with all her things were not where they usually are.  I hope and pray she is alright.  I know I will try to never again avoid her or any other person in need.  After all, today's Magnficat quotation from Jeremiah reminds us "...For every person that God puts on our path becomes the way to the fulfillment we seek..."


Gail said...

Dearest Esther,
What a beautiful, wonderful reflection. As I go about my daily routine, and I encounter someone who needs help, I will remember your word written here, using them as a way to grace.
Did you ever find that lady? Is she OK?
Thank you for sharing the story, and God Bless you for your compassion and honesty.
With love and prayers,

Esther G. said...

Dear Gail:
Thank you for you kind words. I hadn't seen the lady until yesterday evening. Today I did look for her. Things are tough for her. She told me someone had stolen her cart. It is more likely someone has thrown away all her things. I just let her talk. She rejected my offers of things I brought for her but she did tell me what she needed. I will bring those things to her next time I see her. Thanks for asking and pray for her. I still haven't ask her name.
With much aloha,