(Part 27)


March 5, 2015

Today’s readings:

Jeremiah 17:5-10

Psalm 1:1-6

Luke 16:19-31

We have the familiar parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Dives was super rich, “who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.” (Lk 16:19). Lazarus was super poor, “lying at his door …., covered with sores” (Lk 16:20). Lazarus did not need much, and “would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” (Lk 16:21a). But Dives did not give him anything. When they both died, Dives went to “the netherworld, where he was in torment” (Lk 16:23a), while Lazarus “was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.” (Lk 16:22a).

Dives was guilty of indifference, selfishness and lack (nay, absence) of compassion. He failed to love his neighbor (who literally was just outside his door). He was guilty of injustice, not giving to Lazarus what was his due, a share of the bounty that came from God.

This is the case in the world today. The super rich and the super poor live side by side. The poor are not outside the door but just outside the high walls of the exclusive villages of the rich. The poor are knocking on the closed, tinted windows of the expensive, air-conditioned cars of the rich. In an interconnected world that has become a global village, the very rich nations live it up in luxury and wanton wastefulness while the very poor nations are mired in hunger and misery.

Will this situation ever change? Or will it get worse? Will there ever be God’s justice in this world? Will the poor always be with us?

We can only do our part. We need to do two things urgently: evangelize and work with the poor. Look to the spiritual and social well-being of all, especially those in the peripheries. Look to salvation and liberation.

And we leave the fruit up to God. We trust in God’s love, mercy and justice, “because the Lord knows the way of the just, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.” (Ps 1:6). Justice came for both Dives and Lazarus not in this world but in the afterlife. Abraham told Dives, “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.” (Lk 16:25).

God knows what is going on, and will exact judgment in the end. “I, the Lord, explore the mind and test the heart, giving to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their deeds.” (Jer 17:10). We will be judged according to how we have kept to God’s ways (the call to holiness) and how we have served and borne fruit (the call to serve, especially the poor).

We are not as rich as Dives, often lacking resources with which to serve, but we are not as poor as Lazarus, and we are to look to serve those who are truly poor. We do what we can. In this regard, God has given us the No One in Need (NONe) movement. Everyone of us can participate by offering our time, talent and/or treasure, which will hopefully not just be the scraps from our table.

Will you end up “suffering torment in these flames” (Lk 16:24c), or comforted in the bosom of Abraham?

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