Barenaked Ladies has a great song called “War on Drugs” in which they discuss the Bloor Street Bridge in Toronto. It was the 2nd highest suicide site after the Golden Gate Bridge in North America. And so the city decided to build a net to catch people if they decided to jump. It took a lot of money and time to build it, and it worked, people stopped jumping at that location.
They just found another bridge up the road to jump from instead.
In hindsight, the project seemed foolhardy. People were going to jump no matter what kind of effort was made to try to prevent them. There are always going to be people that we can’t save, no matter how hard we try to do so.
So why should we try?
That question seems to be at the heart of today’s gospel. And most times, I’m seemingly like the rich man. If I reach out to someone else, doesn’t the word of my generosity get around and before I know it, I have 12 more people to care for. Priests tell me, that when they give 2 or 3 good homilies, they end up doing 20 or 30 more weddings. Our “riches”, so to speak, have the ability to make us all the more attractive to others. People resort to us for their needs when they are unable to care for their own.
And it never stops. They just keep coming and coming. I don’t get a moment’s peace. Why did I ever help anyone in the first place?
We are our own worst enemy–aren’t we?
Aren’t we supposed to care for one another? Aren’t we supposed to use our riches, our abilities, what makes us attractive and wealthy, for the betterment of not just ourselves, but for others?
It’s not that the rich man, who I really understand well, purposely ignores Lazarus, it’s that he’s indifferent.
And that indifference causes the Chasm. That eliminates that net that catches all of those who fall through the cracks.
It is that indifference that allows us to widen the spaces between you and me. Between us and the poor. Between the healthy and the unhealthy. Between the feeble old and the efficient young.
And we can’t allow that to happen.
We are all the rich man from time to time. It’s all about us and our own little world, isn’t it? And we siphon ourselves off to our own island where we need not worry about anyone else.
We call that island by a unique and unmistakable name: Hell.
And old habits are all to hard to break. That chasm grows bigger and bigger with our growing indifference. And soon there is no net big enough for us to cover our indifference with.
Until we turn to God, who opens our heart a bit more when we are able to see God in the eyes of those who turn to us. We we do unto others, as we would have them do unto us–we don’t treat people as commodity. We treat others in the way that we’d like them to treat us.
So this week, how might we close the chasm a bit more? How might we reach out to catch another when they fall? Is there someone who needs a bit of cheering up or picking up? Did a friend fail a test or get fired from work or break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend?
We are called to reflect and react. May this week bring you to reach out to another and may others be inspired to catch you each time you fall as well.