I couldn’t help but chuckle when I first read this gospel. Because for me, THIS is Jesus at his best. When Jesus speaks in parables, you better buckle up, because he means BUSINESS. When Jesus uses this parable, he doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He speaks directly to power, reminding us that power is a dangerous thing, if not used responsibly.
I’ve thought a lot about the last two years, and as we enter this third year of the pandemic, I can’t help but see how much our world has been forever transformed. I have seen in many circles how COVID-19 has been the “great revealer”, finally unveiling the systematic inequalities and disparities that have been bolted into our society. The door guarding the rich man’s house has been blown wide open, and he can no longer ignore the many Lazaruses who’ve been suffering.
The Lazaruses, the people in our society who have been suffering under the weight of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism, and all the other forms of sin that continue to plague our world, have not wavered in their lamenting. Their cries still ring loud.
So—what do we do? When the door has been blown off, and we have no other option than to look at our siblings’ suffering, what do we do? What do we do as the world continues to break, and we find ourselves as resigned as Abraham?
We prophesy. Because if anything, Jesus unabashedly reminds us that PROPHETS are needed. We need prophets who can sustain the hope for those who cannot hope too long, who can speak to the Pharisees of our times, and who will hold the sufferings of the Lazaruses in our world. How will you use your power to prophesy, beloved? How will you break the doors of injustice wide open?
Michael Libunao-Macalintal, M.Div. (he/him) is currently the liturgical minister of Marquand Chapel at Yale Divinity School. A theologian, minister, and preacher, Michael has spent his career helping form students to be prophets in their own communities and contexts. You can find more of his writing, sermons, and prayers on his substack, the delicate art of living.