Dirt Is Not the Enemy
For additional Homilies and articles, please see Deacon Jeff’s website: www.JoyoftheWord.org.
I. One detail that strikes me most about this parable is the luxurious purple robe of the rich man.
a. Purple die hard to find in Jesus’ time, sign of great wealth
b. We can imagine the rich man, sitting at table
c. Dining sumptuously
d. The folds of his deep, purple robe cascading to the floor all around him.
e. As he entertained the city’s most powerful and noteworthy people – it was probably a sought after honor to be invited to dinner
f. His house, his fine food, abundant wine, and rich, purple robe must have been a sight to
II. Imagine the conversation at dinner
a. As he sat at the place of honor, in his splendid, purple robe, with all the town’s elite as his audience.
Gaspar van den Hoecke, “Lazarus and the Rich Man’s Table, Johnny van Haeften Gallery, London.
b. Perhaps they spoke of Roman occupation, taxes, trade, religion, preachers and prophets
c. As he gestured and gesticulated his wise words with his hand in the air, showing the extravagant sleeve of his deep, purple robe.
d. Perhaps he even spoke of the town’s poor, and
what should be done with them
III. Meanwhile, Lazarus sat begging at the rich man’s door.
a. Sitting on his very threshold, begging for the leftovers, the scraps, the tossed-away garbage from the rich man’s table
b. Lazarus, a character so pitiful that even the stray dogs stop to
show him kindness.
IV. But not the rich man in the opulent, purple robe.
a. He doesn’t even notice Lazarus at his door
b. Living in luxury, he certainly has the time and the means to do something for Lazarus
c. He no doubt repulses at thought of getting his hands dirty
d. To stoop low into the mud and the muck that is Lazarus’ bed, to touch his sore-covered, dirty skin, to listen to this pitiful, smelly man.
e. No doubt he’s afraid of soiling and ruining his lavish, purple robe
John Everett Millais, Lazarus and the Rich Man; Harvard Art Museums
V. Jesus thoughtfully and beautifully tells this parable to its finest detail
a. For example, we usually note the names of the rich and famous
b. But here, in a characteristic reversal, we don’t know the rich man in this parable,
c. but Jesus gives the poor, suffering man a name, “Lazarus.”
VI. The rich man doesn’t bother to learn the name of the man suffering at this doorstep
a. That is, until Lazarus has something he needs!
b. He pleads to Abraham to have Lazarus bring him just a finger-tip of water, and to warn his brothers
c. But Abraham replies there is too wide a chasm between them, and his brothers have sufficient warning from Moses, the prophets, and – Jesus suggests – warning from one who will rise from the dead.
VII. Nearly all of us here at much closer to being like the rich man and draped in a splendid, purple robe, than we are to being a “Lazarus”
a. Today’s Gospel calls on us to reflect, and ask the question, “Am I afraid of soiling my purple robe, of getting my hands dirty, in serving the Lazarus’ at my door?”
VIII. Mike Rowe – Eagle Scout, Philanthropist, and TV and Internet host, most notably of the series, “Dirty Jobs,” and an advocate for the trades and hard work, said:
a. “I can say the willingness to get dirty
has always defined us as a nation, and it’s a hallmark of hard work, and a hallmark of FUN! DIRT is not the enemy!”
IX. We could easily say the same of our Church
a. Beginning with Jesus, who was one with the poor, our Church has placed special emphasis on getting our hands dirty in service.
b. Jesus taught us he would judge His followers by how we got our hands dirty in feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, comforting the sick, comforting the sorrowing, and burying the dead.
c. We follow in the footsteps of the saints, who folded their hands in prayer AND got their sacred hands dirty in service, Saints like:
i. St. Lawrence the Martyr
ii. St. Martin of Tours
iii. St. Francis of Assisi
iv. St. Ignatius of Loyola
v. St. Vincent de Paul
vi. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
vii. St. Katharine Drexel,– to the present day –
viii. St. Teresa of Calcutta
ix. This litany is mostly the saints represented here in our Church and community
x. … Activity – Continue this litany at home with friends and family
X. Today’s Gospel invites all of us to ask ourselves, Am I willing, to first fold my hands in prayer, and then roll up my purple sleeves, and get my robes and my hands dirty:
a. Volunteering at our downtown soup kitchen
b. Serving with our volunteers at the shelter
c. Visiting the homebound in our assisted living and memory care communities, or the sick in our hospital or in their homes
d. Grabbing our tools and improve a home for someone with our Christmas in April
e. Journeying with a young man and woman through an unplanned pregnancy
f. Caring and healing an abused woman or child
g. Walking with the victim of a violent crime
h. Looking out for the needs of our elderly neighbors
i. Or sharing the path to sobriety with someone overcoming addiction
XI. Remember that Jesus gave the poor man in his parable a name, he called him Lazarus.
a. One question we might ask ourselves is:
b. “Can I give the name of one person whom I serve in the name of Christ?”
XII. Most of us here wear a purple robe
a. But as disciples of Christ
b. We bear a more magnificent robe
XIII. With our baptism, as with ________________’s baptism today,
a. Through the grace of Christ, we are given a pure, white garment
b. The outward sign of our Christian dignity
c. We are instructed to bring that robe unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.
d. This most sacred garment, more precious than a purple robe, has the most miraculous feature:
e. The more you labor, the more sweat and dirt, mud and muck, blood and tears, you put on it
f. in Love and service to others,
g. The more brilliant, the more dazzling white, it becomes.
XIV. May the Gospel move us all to be less concerned for our purple robes, and hold our white garments most precious and dear.
Dirt Is Not the Enemy