Lenten Prayer with St Cuthbert – Day 31

Another of Jesus’ parables about Israel failing to share the wealth of God’s rich blessing on his people. The rich man is not named, but the one from outside the gate is given a name, Lazarus, and is therefore known by God. He ends up standing by Abraham’s side, where Israel expected to find itself. The shock in the story, however, is not that the rich man is punished, or that the poor man is shown mercy, for that was commonly accepted and anticipated. It was that the request of the rich man to send messengers of warning back to his brothers was NOT granted. The warnings are already there for those who will see. But the failure to listen and understand is frightening. Prejudice, pre-judging, keeps us from seeing the human being before our eyes, and our complicity, as individuals and nations, in failing to share the blessing of our abundance. So who is Lazarus for us?

On the significance of the story of the ten lepers, see here.

Cuthbert had blessed some bread and given it to a fellow, who put it in his bag (or pocket?), as you do. The fellow then forgets about it. Some time later he and some friends visit another ailing friend, Hildmer, who was well known to, and beloved by, Cuthbert. He had asked Cuthbert to send a priest to pray for his wife when she was ill, but Cuthbert had come himself after a prompting by the Holy Spirit (Day 15). While sitting around his bed trying to console the suffering man, our fellow suddenly remembers the bit of bread in his pocket, digs it out, tells his friends, and then they pray. They dunk it in some water and give it to Hildmer to drink, who then recovers. Although on one level the story can seem amusing, on another, it is about the participation of the wider body of Christ (‘they were all laymen’) exercising faith in the sacrament of healing. Cuthbert’s only involvement was to bless some bread. If the faithful hadn’t exercised faith, the healing wouldn’t have happened.

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