Frustrating moments in life.
We sometimes cannot see the obvious, even when it is right there in front of us. Today another parable, about a rich man who failed to see the beggar at his door. A few words about the text:
We should not presume that this parable is critical of the rich, and a promise that the poor will have a better time in the life to come. The offence here is not the rich mans wealth, but his lack of mindfulness, his state of mind. The warning is the consequences for anyone who falls into the same mindset.
Mindfulness is not a primary concern for many Christians . In Buddhism it is part of the Eight fold path. Right Mindfulness is a principle of staying aware of what you are doing at all times. By staying mindful of body, feelings and mind, it is easier to keep doing what is right and avoid doing what is wrong.
Becoming mindful of what is happening around us can make a difference to the way we live. Baden Powell encouraged his Scouts to do this. Told two stories one of the day he was caught out of bounds at school, and had no where to go but up a tree. His friend was sure they wd be caught BP told him to sit on the branch and stay silent. The teacher walked directly beneath them he did not see them because you do not expect to find boys up a tree. Or the man whose mare was tied to a tree near a crocodile infested river. He heard her whinnying every so often when he went to untie her he almost taken by the croc which had killed her, and was waiting where she had been tied he did not expect to see a croc, so did not recognise it.
The parable tells us that we may encounter the kingdom in the unexpected place.
There is visual awareness, of the physical world. Ask yourself how mindful you are of your surrounds at home, in the neighbourhood. How aware of what your partner wears today.
Awareness of what people say to us do we look and listen with eyes, ears and heart when we are in conversation? Training in pastoral conversation is part of training for ministry learning to listen to the spoken and unspoken clues that communicate that another person is worried about something and wants to talk. Learning how to encourage them to give expression to sometimes deep and tangled emotions. When you ask how someone is, are you really listening for their response? If you hear something unexpected, how will you deal with it?
Then there is awareness of who we are. The rich man had a distorted awareness of his own importance. Presumed he was an equal with Abraham, presumed that Lazarus was servant and messenger. Who was he to presume? Gently ask how we respond to others - as an equal, conferring on every one dignity, as one for whom any request granted is a personal favour and honour. Mahatma Ghandi adopted the dhoti, attire of the poorest in India, as part of his pursuit of a simple life. Bert Bailey in the 1940 film Dad Rudd MP, after confronting a landed snob, tells the butler to "Call my tram". Awareness that attributes true meaning and value to righteousness, godliness, faith, love endurance and and gentleness.
Jesus wants more of us than just humility. The parable is an invitation to live in mindfulness that allows us to truly "see", as Jesus saw in so many instances. To "see" the truth of our own situation, and stop living in the delusion of the rich man in the parable, but rather that we are creatures so greatly loved by a wonderful creator. To see as the letter to Timothy reminded us, that with the basics in life we can truly be "rich" in the things that matter. To "see" that the Kingdom of God appears unexpectedly and challenges our comfortable existence by opening our eyes to the plight of the less fortunate; and then, in a Christ like way, to move from "seeing" to compassionate action.
May God help us to truly "see" what is in us and about us, and may that change our living. Amen.