26 Sunday,30 September 2007
Lazarus and the rich man
There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there used to lie a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with what fell from the rich man's table. Even dogs came and licked his sores.
Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham's embrace. The rich man also died and was buried. In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his embrace.
So he cried out, "Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames." Abraham said, "My son, remember that during your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony.
But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to prevent those who want to cross from our side to yours or from your side to ours."
So he said, "Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father's house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too." Abraham said, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them."
The rich man replied, "Ah no, father Abraham, but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent." Then Abraham said to him, "If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead."
This Sunday’s readings clearly tell us what we should do to attain eternal life. In today’s world we are all striving to be like the rich man, who lived in luxury – very comfortable mansion, luxurious cars, dining in porch restaurants with famous personalities, good food, wine, music and women. To achieve all these we go all out to accumulate more and more wealth.
In our obsession with trying to make more and more, we forget the poor Lazarus just at the gates of our mansion. We pass by him several times a day but are do not, or more rightly refuseto, see him. He is in front of us, hungry, naked, sick and wounded but we do not see or hear him. We continue to enjoy and satisfy our senses least perturbed by the poverty and misery of those around us. How will God reward us if we ignore Him in the pleas of those in our midst?
In our materialistic world today, we even tend to bribe God to enter His Kingdom.We fast, abstain and diligently receive all the sacraments without fail. We build majestic churches organize mammoth feasts, banquets and mass worship sessions in His name but refuse to acknowledge Him in those in need around us.
We refuse to talk to one another, refuse to smile at those we meet and we harbour so much hatred and jealousy towards those who are better off than us. We refuse to humble ourselves to go down and share our gifts with those less fortunate than us. Is it fair to expect God to reward us for holding Him to ransom?