Martin Rios is a TSA officer at Portland International Airport – the Portland that is in Oregon. He was called to the checkpoint to translate for a Spanish-speaking family who was lost and confused. He learned that they had been stuck overnight in the airport. The family of three had intended to travel to the other Portland – the one in Maine – but their travel agent made a mistake in booking their tickets. Officer Rios escorted the family to the ticket desk and found they had just $200, not enough to fly across country. So, Officer Rios paid for the tickets out of his own pocket and sent the family on their way.
Rios’ bosses and co-workers in Portland – the Oregon one – were not surprised at Rios’ compassion and generosity. Officer Rios says simply that he understood the family’s plight: “They were in a country where they didn’t speak the language, didn’t know much about where they were, and they ended up all the way across from where they were supposed to be. I just know that I didn’t have it in me to turn them away and just go back to work like nothing happened.”
The rich man did not order Lazarus to be removed from his gate. He made no objections to the man getting the scraps of food that fell from the table. He was not deliberately cruel to him.
The sin of Lazarus was that he never noticed Lazarus. It was not that he did wrong things but that he did nothing!
The question of this season of Lent is this: As we examine our lives we need to ask ourselves, what is it in us that helps us to recognize those in need and reach out to them, and conversely, what is missing in us, what do we need to change so that we do not take those in need for granted, or that we miss seeing their plight, completely?
What may there be in us that we become so caught up in our own needs that we fail to see the needs of others?
May the Lord in this season of Lent open our eyes to the poor, the needy, the forgotten, open our hearts to welcome them into our lives with compassion and respect.