1. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go
from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead’”(Lk 16:19-31). Taken from today’s Sunday gospel for Sunday week 26C.
2. What does the word of God say to us on this 26th Sunday of the ordinary time? The three readings unanimously call us not to be indifferent to the plight of those around us. The first reading taken from the Prophet Amos speaks of a class of people who were only interested in enjoying their riches without giving a thought to the poverty of those around them, to the injustice that was ravaging the city. God vowed to punish them. We may argue that they have suffered to acquire their wealth and have the right to enjoy it the way they want. They forgot that the poor are also their brothers and sisters. They cannot therefore be indifferent to their plight.
3. The gospel highlights the same point by telling the story of Lazarus and the rich man, Dives. Lazarus was poor, sick and unable to fend for himself probably because of his sickness. His only effort was taking himself to the gate of the rich man, a place through which the man must pass. But the rich man has grown so insensitive and indifferent to those around him that he could no longer notice the poor man at his gate. God showed his displeasure for this attitude by allowing the rich man to go to hell after his life on earth. We can still argue that the man has not done any harm to Lazarus. He merely enjoyed his wealth. But his sin was his indifference to a suffering brother. He refused to help out when he could have done so without much inconvenience. St. Ambrose commenting on this says: “give food to the man you see dying of hunger for if you do not do so you are killing him.” The rich man stood condemned as a murderer for he refused to give food to the man dying of hunger.
4. In a world where more than 70% of the people are poor, one cannot solve the problem of all the poor. What God wants from us is to do the little we can. We should not be indifferent. This concerns not only the rich but also the poor. A child in the catechism class gave a heart-warming testimony. He said that he saved part of his daily school pocket money for three months in order to buy a particular game machine. The day the money was complete he went to the super market to procure the object but at the entrance he found a beggar saying that he was hungry. The young boy gave him part of the money and went back home. When he arrived home, his mother surprised him with a gift of exactly the same machine that he wanted to buy. A lady also told the story of how a beggar bought food for her. She was well dressed and the child beggar came to her and said: “aunty, I am hungry, I have not eaten since today.” The lady responded that she too was hungry because she has not eaten. The girl went straight and bought food for her from her own money. The lady asked her why she did that, the little girl responded. “You look rich so you cannot beg but I can beg and get another money to buy my own food.” These stories show that everyone is called to do something, whether rich or poor. Nobody should remain indifferent to the suffering of others.
5. The last part of the gospel is an anticlimax. The rich man who seemed to be indifferent to others turns out to care for his siblings. In a way he shows himself to be truly selfish. The response of Abraham that one doesn’t need extra ordinary signs to become obedient to God gives the second lesson for today’s Sunday. Many people pretend to work signs and wonders and people troop there saying that God is there. Abraham shows that simply listening to the homilies given from the Word of God is enough to guarantee heaven for us. There is no need for someone to come from the dead to make one accept the word of God.
6. You certainly have your needs and problems that you may not even be able to solve. Keep looking for solution but do not become indifferent to the needs of those you encounter. Make it a principle of action to always put a little smile on gloomy faces that you encounter. You may not solve their problems but you can make them feel that they are truly human. Always give your little and God will make up for the rest. Above all know that the word of God you hear from simple preachers can take you to heaven if you obey them. Do not bother yourself to encounter the so called powerful men of God. You do not them to make heaven. ©Vita, 25/09/22.