Lazarus and Me at the Chinese Buffet

 Lazarus and the Rich Man

Luke chapter 16

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.* 19“There was a rich man* who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. 20And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,i21who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. 22When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23and from the netherworld,* where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ 25Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.j26Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ 27He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ 29But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ 30* He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”k

This is a parable that I’ve heard many, many times over the 55 years I’ve roamed this earth, but THIS is the year that the Lord has deemed to reveal it to me in a deeply personal way.

A few months ago, in the confessional, Fr. S. told me that I should pray to see myself as the Lord sees me and while doing so it was also put upon my heart to see others as the Lord sees them.

Shortly after that spiritual encounter, and after praying this during my morning devotionals, I was working in town when I got a call from my sweet Rupert, and then from my first born, that the following was occurring: 1. They were at work 2. without cash and 3. they were both STARVING to death.  Cash was, and continues to be, very tight but in the midst of my running around I promised them both that I’d bring them something good to eat and I knew just the thing! We have a Chinese Buffet which is AMAZINGLY delicious BUT, even better, has a buffet where you can cram as much hot deliciousness as possible into one of their containers for only $7! Can you say “BARGAIN” boys and girls? I went to the bank and pulled the last $20 from my account with full knowledge that I could feed my boys AND still have enough left to get a snack for myself.

I pulled into the restaurant and hurriedly locked my car while dashing to the restaurant door. I passed by a young man, neatly dressed, locking up his bicycle.  As I swept by something made me look up and make eye contact with him – which is something I’d normally avoid.

He gave me a sweet smile and said “Ma’am, I promise, I’m not asking you for money, but I was wondering if you may be willing to buy me a meal?”

I quickly scanned my surroundings and noticed that the parking lot was empty and that the restaurant would not be unlocking their doors for another hour. I then selfishly began doing calculations in my head, realizing that I had no other money besides the $20 and if I gave it to this guy, then me and mine would be without!

Immediately, I was ashamed of myself. I looked closer at this young man and while neatly dressed, his clothing was threadbare, his bike was not very roadworthy, and he was woefully underdressed for the bitter cold wind that was beating at both of us.

I pulled out the $20 and said “of course, here you go. It’s enough for the buffet and to get a drink.”

He looked at the $20 in amazement and arching his back, stretching out his arms he began to proclaim God’s goodness and generosity. He looked at me and said “I’ve been so hungry, I was going to ask if they’d let me work in exchange for some food. I just asked God this morning to please help me and He brought me you! What were the chances we would meet up? I’ve been so hungry!”

His joy, his gratefulness, his humility was overpowering and I believe I did see him as does the Lord. A young man, on hard times, trying to earn a meal on a bitterly cold winter’s day.

I will never forget him or the lesson I learned that day. God wants us to see and to be aware that we all pass our Lazaruses on the street, but that Lazarus may have many guises. We need to lift our eyes and see Him in everyone.

We must not also forget that the Lord cannot be undone in his generosity! I got back into my car and picked up the phone to tell my boys that it was time for a Plan B, and you know what? Both of them said “oh, nevermind mom! A friend of mine just bought me lunch!”

Which just goes to show that what goes around comes around!

God is good! All the time!

All the time! God is good!