WHO DON’T WE SEE?
WHO DON’T WE SEE? Luke 16:19-31
Have you ever been in a crowd of people yet felt like you were invisible? Have you ever been in a group of people and yet wondered if anyone knew you were there? Sometimes we can be with people and yet feel like they don’t “see” us. What is meant by this is that we don’t feel noticed or known. Instead, we feel ignored or forgotten. This is what a person is getting at if you have ever heard them use the phrase, “I don’t feel ‘seen’ ” or “I don’t feel as if people ‘see’ me.” They are not referring to people having bad eyesight, they are referring to the feeling that people have not taken the time to get to really know them. What they are feeling is that they are not understood.
There are many things in our world which can prevent us from truly “seeing” each other. One of those things that we see in the text for this Sunday is money or income inequality. There is a poor beggar named Lazarus who sits outside the gates of the house of a rich man. The rich man apparently walks by Lazarus every day but does not seem to have any interaction with him. Whether he truly did not notice the poor man or simply chose to ignore him, we don’t know, but either way the rich man does not seem to “see” Lazarus.
In the story Jesus tells, both the rich man and Lazarus die and it seems the rich man finally sees Lazarus, but there is a chasm between the torments of Hades where the rich man is and the comforts of heaven where Lazarus is. One also has to wonder if the rich man even in that situation really “sees” poor Lazarus because even in the afterlife the rich man is demanding that Father Abraham send Lazarus to bring him water as if he was still just a lowly servant.
The story Jesus tells is a cautionary tale of the chasms that are created between people when we don’t really “see” each other. In the parable, it is money and inequality which creates this chasm, but are there other things that can also prevent us from truly “seeing” one another? What about cultural, political, and religious divides? Can those also result in chasms that seem impossible to cross? What would it mean for us to look across those divides in an effort not to see the other as less than ourselves, but as people also worthy of God’s love?
-Pastor Erik Goehner