In today’s Gospel from Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Interestingly, we are not given the name of the rich man, only that of the poor man Lazarus. Amy-Jill Levine, in her book Short Stories by Jesus highlights the significance of the fact that the parable identifies Lazarus by name.
Naming someone forces us to notice the person. It is a lot hard to ignore or even mindlessly toss a coin in someone’s direction without making eye contact if we know them by name.
Levine’s challenge echoes that of Pope Francis – that we actually encounter our brothers and sisters in need. “Know the names of the destitute,” says Levine, for “each has a story to tell.”
The facilitator of a discussion group for Levine’s book posed these questions. Perhaps they will make you a bit uncomfortable – they did me.
Do you know any homeless people by name?
If so, how has that changed or softened your heart toward them?
If not, where are some homeless people you can reach out to this week?