There was a rich man …
and at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus…
—Luke 16.19, 20
Admit it: society thinks of the well-to-do as “somebody,”
treating them with respect and honor,
while we treat the destitute with scorn and judgment;
we think of them as a “nobody.”
In Jesus’ a story of a rich man and a poor man
notice how he reverses that.
The rich man is not named;
other than his riches he’s nobody in particular.
But the poor man is somebody. He has a name: Lazarus.
When Lazarus dies he is carried by angels
to the bosom of Abraham.
When the the rich man dies… well, he dies. He’s buried.
Period. No further ado.
The poor, the abandoned, the nameless—they are somebody.
The guy at the intersection with the ragged cardboard sign,
the refugee with everything in a plastic bag,
the old woman in the wheelchair at the nursing home,
the addict wasting away in the upstairs room,
the inmate languishing in prison,
they have a name, a story. They’re somebody.
(So is the rich man,
but he has forfeited his identity for his riches.)
They’re not fixtures, objects, symbols of something.
They’re somebody. Look at them and see. See them.
Maybe you can help them, maybe not.
But you can see them.