Dr. Marvin McMickle, president, director of the Doctor of Ministry program and professor of African American Religious Studies for Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, led Thursday’s Bible study on Luke 16:19-22.
McMickle called attention to the contrast between the rich man in his fine linen who ate sumptuously and Lazarus, the beggar covered in sores at the rich man’s gate. The rich man could not come and go without seeing this man in poverty and did not help him. After they both died, Lazarus woke in the bosom of Abraham in heaven, while the rich man went to hell.
The focus turned to thinking about the poverty we see today, on our way to church, dressed in our fine linens, and the poverty we drive past on our way to brunch to eat sumptuously after church. “It is no longer possible for someone to say, ‘Well, I did not know’ about the suffering of the poor. Poverty has a visibility today that it did not have in the past. The faces of the poor must now be confronted,” he said.
McMickle shared statistics that the United States ranks second out of 35 developed countries on the scale of what economists call “relative child poverty,” with 23.1 percent of its children living in poverty. Only Romania ranked higher. And he said we have such a problem because we tolerate a steadily expanding gap. He said, “the church is an island of prosperity surrounded by a sea of great poverty.”
The poor man goes to heaven and the rich man to hell. Why, McMickle asked. “He paid no attention to the poor man just outside his door.”
“Luke 16 is a challenge to you to go home to your home church, look outside your window and see who or what is there.”