FR. JUSTIN’S HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: DO GOOD WORKS WHILE YOU LIVE
BY: Fr. Justin Nzekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 25 2022
We must be careful about living our lives as though the world is our permanent home. Some of us are already living their lives as if God does not exist. The prophet Amos in the first reading of today spoke against an increased disparity between the rich and the poor. He warns the people saying, “Woe to the carefree of Zion and to those who consider themselves safe on the mountain of Samaria! Lying on ivory beds and lying on their sofas they eat the lambs of the flock and the calves raised in the stable.” His warning was specifically for the rich who were oppressing the poor. He went on to condemn such conduct as evil, while reminding the rich about the consequences of their negative attitude towards the poor. In the Gospel reading, Jesus told us about a rich man who refused to have compassion on a poor man, named Lazarus, who stood at his door, covered with sores, eager to feed himself from what fell from the rich man’s table but got nothing. Instead, this rich man rather allowed his dog to be leaking the wounds of this poor man. However, we must understand that neither poverty nor riches is a direct ticket to heaven or to hell fire. What qualifies us to go to hell or heaven is the way we live our daily lives regardless of our social status. Riches becomes a problem when we refuse to use it for the service of God, and to assist our fellow human beings who are in need. Lazarus went to heaven not because he was poor, but because of his patience and good conduct. He did not curse the rich man for refusing to help him, neither did he rely on being poor as an excuse to live a bad life.
On the part of the rich man, he trusted in his riches. He was elaborately described as one who wore rich cloths of purple and fine linen, and he feasted lavishly daily. The rich man thought that life ends here on earth. He cared for his body without caring for his soul. He forgot that everyone would die one day, whether rich or poor, and we all must face God’s judgment one day. He learnt his lessons so late. He only realized his mistakes at a time when they were already irreversible, for after death, there is no more chance for repentance or conversion. Unfortunately, the rich man’s earthly possessions weren’t important anymore in hell fire. This is why the book of Quolet says, “vanity of vanity, all is vanity.” When this rich man was alive, he had everything he needs, but now the only thing he needs was for Lazarus to dip a finger on water and drop on his tongue to quench his thirst, yet it was not possible. He also wanted him to go to the earth and preach to his brothers to repent, but it was also not possible. His principal sin was the sin of omission. For in the final judgment, we shall be judged according to our compliance with the commandment of love. It is not enough to avoid doing evil, we must also be able to do good works. The story of the rich man and Lazarus continues to remind us that we must not neglect doing good works while we live. We should be able to bear abundant fruits of love, kindness, mercy and generosity towards our brothers and sisters in need.
We pray in this holy mass that God may grant us the disposition to feel the pain of those who are suffering, and to use our riches to serve God faithfully, amen.