Sunday, September 26, 2010

The manners of a dog

Growing up in Danville, I remember hearing the older folks say of someone who was ill-mannered, "He has the manners of a dog."

Today's gospel is the well-known story of the rich man and Lazarus. Oblivious to the situation of Lazarus the rich man sits in his house dining sumptuously while Lazarus suffers sickness and poverty just outside his door.

I'm sure he probably used the same excuse we often do. We see so much chronic poverty, we decide we can't fix all of it and therefore excuse ourselves from fixing any of it. But then there is the dog.

Luke includes what seems to be a superfluous detail. The dog would lick the sores of Lazarus.

God has built into dogs this instinctive reaction. They lick sores to try and heal them. Does it always work? No. Does it even sometimes make them worse? Yes. But the intention and instinct is a good one. The dog sees the suffering man and does what he can to help.

So in fact the dog in this gospel is more well-mannered than the rich man. The rich man doesn't even have the manners of a dog.

Are we expected to cure all the world's ills? But are we expected to do what we can? The US is less than 5% of the world population and consume 25% of the energy. We throw away so much food that it costs us 1 billion dollars a year just to dispose of wasted food. And probably all of us reading this blog, truth be told, myself included, are by world standards "rich."

Perhaps my prayer today is simple: Lord give me the manners of the dog.
Help me to truly see those in need and do what I can to help.