In his parables, Jesus often challenges our usual way of doing things. He punches holes in our preconceived notions and reveals our misguided methodologies. In today’s reading, Jesus upends another common trope—that rich people are more important than poor people. We notice that something is up as soon as Jesus begins the parable. “There was a rich man . . .” he says; but as he continues, this rich man is never named. Rich people are always called by their names. If you possess money and power, everyone knows your name. Dropping the name of a wealthy person opens doors to places previously off-limits to most of us.

No doubt the unnamed rich man of the parable does not know the name of the beggar who sits at the gate of his house either. But in the parable the beggar has a name—Lazarus. It is the only time Jesus ever uses a name in a parable. To the rich man, the beggar is nameless, just a person to be ignored, invisible. But to God he has a name. He is not known as “a beggar.” He is Lazarus.

As with Lazarus, God calls each one of us by name. In Isaiah we find this statement: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isa. 43:1). God knows us personally and cares about us as unique individuals. Think about it: The Creator and Sustainer of the universe knows us!

In our world, rich people’s names are known and beggars are often treated as nameless. But in the parable, as in God’s realm, the beggar is called by name. Each one of us matters to God.

God of the named and nameless, we are astounded—and grateful—that you, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, care enough for each of us to call us by name. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 16:19-31

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Lectionary Week
September 23–29, 2019
Scripture Overview

While Jeremiah is in prison, God tells him to buy a field. This transaction shows that in the future life will return to normal. It is an “enactment prophecy,” where a prophecy is given through actions instead of just words. The psalmist rejoices in the protection that God provides to the faithful. God is a fortress, a covering, and a shield. Paul admonishes his readers not to fall into materialism. The love of money, not money itself, is the root of all kinds of evil, and those obsessed with it build their hopes on shifting sands. Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who has fallen into that very trap. Only after death, when it is too late, does he realize his mistake.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15. How do you live as if God’s promises were already true?
Read Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16. How do you turn toward God with hope in times of darkness?
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19. Whether you have few or many possessions, how do they get in the way of your following Jesus?
Read Luke 16:19-31. God knows each of us by name. Do you know the names of the persons in your community who have obvious or internal unmet needs?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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