April 3, 2020

Luke 16:19-31
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Reflection: This verse suggests that the Rich Man cannot understand what it means to be poor and hungry and that Lazarus, during his lifetime, never experienced the alternative. As members of Salem, we likely have not experienced true poverty and hunger, but even though we have not, we can show the ability to understand through our actions, something that the Rich Man was unwilling to do.
     Through Salem’s Outreach Ministries to the Peoria community, we have made food and/or monetary contributions, as well as volunteered our time to Thomas Jefferson School, Common Place, Midwest Food Bank, Bethel United Methodist Food Pantry, Crittenton Center, and other organizations. Directly and indirectly, we have contributed successfully to reduction in hunger and malnutrition.
     My vocational rehabilitation experience tells me that lack of job opportunity leads to poverty which leads to hunger and/or malnutrition. Through direct interaction with people and study of statistical data, I have seen positive indicators of reduced poverty, such as increasing wages, lower unemployment, reduction in food stamp and social security disability applications, etc. This trend toward elimination of hunger is positive, let’s keep it going!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the opportunities you have provided to us to reduce hunger. Keep us focused on this positive path. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

-Dennis Gustafson