The Lazarus of the 21st Century
By Fr. Frank A. Pavone
We learn many lessons from those who go to heaven. In the story of the Rich Man and
Lazarus, we learn a lesson from one who went to hell.
Why was the Rich Man condemned? Was it because he had so much? Was there something
inherently sinful about the purple and linen in which he dressed, or the feasts in which
he indulged? No. The rich man went to hell because he ignored the other man. He was not
condemned for what he did, but for what he did not do. He did not recognize or treat
Lazarus as his equal, his brother. Instead, he thought that because Lazarus' possessions
were less valuable than his, that Lazarus was less valuable than he. The beggar's cries
The story causes us to wonder what we would do if we were there. Brothers and sisters,
we ARE there. You and I have an appointment with Lazarus today, and we will be judged on
how we respond. The Lazarus of the 21st century is in our midst. He is in our midst in the
poor, the troublesome, the annoying, the person who is smaller and weaker than we are, and
the person who seems different and less valuable.
In particular, the Lazarus of the 21st century is our preborn brother or sister. This
is the person rejected by society, the person who begs for help to live but whose cries
are rejected 4400 times a day in our country. This is the person torn apart and thrown
away by abortion.
The rich man was condemned for not treating Lazarus as his brother. We also will be
condemned if we do not treat the preborn as our brother or sister. Many oppose abortion
and would never have one, but they then ask, "Who am I to interfere with a woman's
choice to abort?" Today, I will tell you who you are. You are a brother, a sister of
that child in the womb! "Who am I to interfere with her choice?" You are a human
being who has enough decency to stand up and say "NO!" when you see another
human being about to be killed. "Who am I to interfere with her choice?" You are
a person who has enough wisdom to realize that injustice to one human being is injustice
to every human being, and that your life is only as safe as the life of the preborn child.
"Who am I to interfere with her choice?" You are a follower of the One who said,
"Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to Me." Do we not believe
that if we allow a person to die of starvation, that we are allowing Christ to die of
starvation? Do we not believe that if we leave the sick untended, that we are leaving
Christ untended? Must we not then also believe that whenever a child in the womb is ripped
apart, burned, crushed, and then thrown away, that Christ is ripped apart, burned,
crushed, and thrown away? It is Christ in the womb! When we stand up for life we stand up
If abortion is not wrong then nothing is wrong. If we cannot be stirred to respond as
individuals, as a Church, and as a nation, to the plight of the preborn children, then we
have lost our soul. Indeed, the Lazarus of the 21st century is knocking at our door. God,
have mercy on us and help us to respond!