The Visible Poor

Rich Rockwood

READ : Luke 16:19-31

. . . at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. (vv. 20-21)

Where I live, a court recently ruled that begging is freedom of expression and therefore legal, so now we have panhandlers on many busy street corners. Conventional wisdom cautions against giving them any cash because we don’t know how people will use or abuse our donation. Still their sad faces make me uncomfortable as I wait for traffic lights. I try and avert my eyes, but I feel their stares.

I wonder if in our hearts some of us are like the rich man in this parable. Granted he didn’t have the beggar removed from his premises, but he felt nothing for the man’s condition and therefore did nothing to ease his suffering. The 2014 State of Homelessness in America report highlights that on a single night in January 2013, some 610,000 people across the United States were experiencing homelessness, including some 58,000 veterans and almost 47,000 youth (National Alliance to End Homelessness Web site). What can we do to help?

One local ministry offers $2 vouchers for sale which will provide a full meal, pay for a week’s storage locker, pay for a haircut, and buy a pair of warm socks. Another option we all might consider is contributing regularly to a ministry to the poor. Jesus’ parable doesn’t leave us with the option of doing nothing anymore.


Lord, open my eyes and heart so I will open my pocketbook or wallet.