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The Lazarus of the 21st Century
(Lk.16:19-31)

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 went unheeded.

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 for Him!

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!

Amen!

Priests for Life
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