I see them all the time, especially when getting off of the exit for State Road. The disheveled man holding up a cardboard sign asking for food or money (rarely for a job). Whether I'm wearing my Roman collar or not, I feel guilty. Should I give something to him? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. What if they use it for alcohol or drugs? Why doesn't he find a job? I give to Catholic Charities...he should go there for help. But I always feel uncomfortable.
That I believe is the point of Jesus in telling the parable about the rich man and Lazarus, the poor man. He makes us uncomfortable. That's what many of Jesus's parables are meant to do. He wants us to notice. He wants us to think. How do you, with all your blessings, help those who are in need? It's not your job to judge them, just to help them. Parables help us to open our eyes, to ask questions, to challenge our complacency. We all have to decide for ourselves what our response should be, but we all have to do something.
The rich man continued to live after death the way he chose to live during his life on earth...in separation from others. He not only did not give to others, he didn't even notice them. That is torment for us...to live in isolation. But Lazarus lives in the bosom...the embrace...of Abraham. Do we notice? How do we respond? If we're uncomfortable seeing people beg, what a blessing that is!