Monday, September 26, 2016

Going to the Dogs

"Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores" (Luke 16:21).

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Rom. 13:9).  The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus seems to teach this commandment only through a negative example.  The rich man did not care for his neighbor.

But there is in the story also a shining positive example of loving your neighbor as yourself.  It is the dogs who came and licked the poor man's sores.  A dog is a man's best friend.  In the case of Lazarus, they may have been his only friends.

Israelites thought of dogs differently than we do.  They were unclean, scavengers, and a source of disease.  So we think that Jesus mentions the dogs in order to underscore Lazarus's suffering.  He could do nothing to keep the dirty dogs away.

But from another angle a love shines through.  What do dogs do for themselves?  They lick their sores and wounds (an action that removes dead tissue and promotes healing).  In coming and licking the sores of Lazarus, they give a perfect lesson on the commandment: You shall lick your neighbor as yourself.

The dogs acted instinctively.  The instinct of sinful man is to love himself.  The love of Christ and the Holy Spirit implant a new instinct: to love your neighbor, especially the one who is hurting.

Let's all go to the dogs, and follow their example.