Fr. Mike’s Homily for Thursday of the 2nd Week of Lent
Theme: Doing good to others
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches
Homily for Thursday March 17 2022
“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.’”
The parable in the Gospel today echoes the words of the Lord in the Parable of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25: “As often as you neglected to do it to the least of my brothers you neglected to do it to me.”
The rich man has everything that this world can offer – abundant food, fine clothes, big house and lots of friends. He enjoys this life of abundance and excess on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, there is a poor man named Lazarus, lying hungry at the rich man’s door. But no one pays any attention to him, except the dogs that licked his sores.
This scene is remarkably uneventful. It seems nothing is happening: the rich man is partying; the poor man is lying down and waiting for some crumbs of bread. There is no communication whatsoever between them, although it is simply unlikely for the rich man not to notice Lazarus at his gate.
Then they both die. Lazarus is brought by angels to the bosom of Abraham; the rich man is condemned to Hell. What is the sin of the rich man? The parable does not say that he became wealthy through immoral and illegal means. He did not abuse or chase to poor man away. He did not do anything bad to him. He simply ignored him as if he does not exist.
That is the sin of the rich man. He did not do anything bad to Lazarus, but he did not also do anything good to him. Nothing bad, nothing good. In short, he is good for nothing. That is why he has no name – he is a nobody. He was too busy thinking only about himself, and enjoying a life of comfort, luxury and excess that he totally ignored Lazarus. It is a life of complete selfishness. Indeed, as Marcus Aurelius said, “A man does not sin only by commission, but often by omission.”
And now, it is the rich man who begs for help from the man he ignored in his lifetime. But it is too late. All throughout his life, he enjoyed the blessings from God in abundance. But he thought these blessings were only for himself. He failed to realize that he is only a channel of God’s graces. Thus, blinded by the spirit of consumerism, hedonism and selfishness, he willfully ignores the poor and the needy.
He, then, pleads on behalf of his brothers that they be given some kind of warning. But Abraham replies that there is no need to warn them for they have Moses and the teachings of the prophets: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”
There are many people who still think that holiness consists only in avoiding sin and trying not to violate any of the commandments of God. But we must take note that in the Gospels, Jesus does not directly mention the Ten Commandments. He does not see the need to do so for these are already mentioned in the Old Testament. Instead, He stresses more on the positive: doing good to others. He even goes to the point of identifying Himself with the unfortunate brethren: what you do to them, you also do to me. Thus, He taught the Beatitudes, the formula of true holiness.
The parable does not say that the rich man purposely decided not to help. It is just that he was so engrossed in himself and in the things he enjoys that he failed to notice the misery of other people. This is a strong warning to us all. Many times we miss great opportunities to help others when we are not attentive.
A Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, gives this accurate observation: “There is so much wealth and so much misery at the same time, that it seems incredible that people can endure such class difference, and accept such a form of hunger while on the other hand, the millionaires throw away millions on stupidities.”
Perhaps the Lord allows us to experience this pandemic to shake us out of our comfort zones, that we may realize that we, too, are vulnerable to the adversities of life – that if we do not reach out now, our cozy little worlds will in no time crumble into pieces.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches