Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a poor man who both died and went to their eternal destinies—the rich man to Hades (hell) and the poor to “Abraham’s side” (heaven). [See Luke 16:19-31.] I wonder if this be a statement on Sabbath—on our need to stop, to rest, to break from our daily activities—as much as it is a statement on care for the poor, or on heaven and hell?
The rich man was well-dressed and well-fed. The parable says nothing of his activities except that he “feasted sumptuously every day.” It suggests that he never stopped; never stopped to look down at the poor, sickly beggar lying at his gate; never stopped long enough to drop even a morsel from the ever-present loaf in his fat hand. Perhaps he did not even stop long enough to shoo the man away…”not in my back yard.” Yet somehow, he knew his name: Lazarus. The name means he whom God has helped. Maybe that was the rich man’s excuse: God would help him, so I don’t need to; or God has helped him, and look at the result. Either way, the rich man neither stops nor stoops.
How often, in our self-important busy-ness, do we not stop to look at those around us? How often do we not stoop to help? We know they’re there, for we must step over or around them each day; we may even know their names; but we neither know nor truly see them.
We know God’s name, too: Emmanuel—God with us. Yet in the never-ending toil of our well-dressed feasting, we miss, too, the very presence and intimacy of God.