February 16, 2017

Lying at the Gate

Luke 16:19-24

At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.

—  Luke 16:20-21

In 1873, at the age of 33, a Roman Catholic priest named Damien came to a small Hawaiian island. According to the story, the island had become a place where the local government sent its lepers. Like Lazarus, they were forced to live “outside the gate.” In imitation of the Lord Jesus, Father Damien went to live with the lepers and identified with them. Sixteen years later he himself died of leprosy.

Most of us will probably never be asked to minister to lepers in the way Father Damien did. But it does not take a visit to a leper colony or a mission trip to an impoverished country to find people like Lazarus.

In the news we see refugees fleeing for their lives. We meet people in need when we visit a homeless shelter. We meet others in need when we encounter people who are looked down on because they don’t fit in or because they are not considered to be productive members of our society.

It’s up to us who have been blessed with plenty to reach out to people who are lying at our gate. We are to pray for them, support the different agencies that minister to them, and volunteer if we are able.

Ask the Lord today and every day to show you ways to reach out to people who need help.

Lord God, open our eyes so that we can see the people who are lying at our gate, and move us to help. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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