BY: Fr. Karabari Paul


“Woe to those who lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the stall…” (Amos 6:1-7).

You say, ‘It’s not my responsibility. I’m not getting involved!’ Psychologists call this ‘compassionate disengagement’, the tendency to avoid helping someone in trouble. Whether your motivation is inconvenience, self-protection, or indifference, it’s wrong. ‘Being there’ is how you demonstrate your love for God and your neighbour.

In the Gospel of today (Luke 16:19-31), we reflect on the parable that reconciles us to poverty and affliction as well as cautions us against the temptation to worldliness and excessive pleasure. This parable a lesson for the Jews who felt that prosperity was one of the marks of a good man and a favourite of heaven, and had no favourable thoughts of poverty. It is the story of the richman who feasted sumptuously daily but there was Lazarus at his gate who had nothing to eat. The richman fared deliciously everyday on varieties of food. Note: it is no sin to be rich, no sin to wear purple and fine linen, if a man’s estate can afford it. We are not told that he got his wealth by fraud, oppression, or extortion. He wasn’t even hostile to Lazarus. He never chased the poor man away from his gate nor poured water on him in disdain. He only felt Lazarus wasn’t his responsibility. He simply ignored him. We should not ignore the lesson: That plenty and excessive pleasure are to many a fatal temptation to self-centeredness, forgetfulness of God and heaven. That the ease and pleasure of wealth without God is the ruin of many a soul since wealth often becomes the fuel of pride (Do you know who I am?).

While we describe the richman (Dives) in splendour and glory, Lazarus was not only afflicted in body but also in stomach. He wasn’t just covered with sores, but was also forced to beg his bread; a condition that took him to the richman’s gate. And while the richman’s dogs had enough to eat and licked the sores of Lazarus, Lazarus couldn’t see the crumbs that fell from the richman’s table. This condition is still common among us. That some richmen’s dogs eat far better than the poor in their streets. It is offensive to divine providence to pamper dogs and horses, and let the families of poor neighbours starve.

However, Lazarus didn’t go to heaven simply because he was poor. But as his name implies, God was his helper. He never cursed God in his condition. He didn’t take his lot as a punishment from God. Lazarus wasn’t just poor, he was poor in spirit. He wasn’t looking for equal opportunity with the richman. He didn’t lie at the gate complaining, cursing those who ignored him, or shouting, but silently desiring to be fed with the crumbs. A little thing would be great kindness to Lazarus yet the richman ignored him. It is also a lesson that it is not enough not to oppress and trample upon the poor; we shall be found unfaithful stewards of the Master’s goods if we do not succour and relieve them.

And since death is the common lot of the rich and poor, godly and ungodly; they both died. Death favours not either the richman for his riches or the poor man for his poverty. However, the consolation of those who have God as their helper is guaranteed. But the sorrow of those who create their personal comfort outside God will surely come also.

Today, we see victims of accident on the road, we simply drive away because they are not our responsibility; we see a helpless man, we feel that they not related to us. We ignore daily the Lazarus at our gate, in our church, that we meet at the market place, at our place of work etc. because it is not our responsibility to do something about their condition. Lazarus is everywhere. And we see him daily.

The richman didn’t go to hell because of what he did. He went to hell for his inaction and indifference. We can even be oppressive in indifference and silence. The story shows that nothing last forever. We can’t have people at our at service forever. The richman in his usual nature almost commanded Lazarus to bring him water in the other world but condition had changed. It sounds so strange that the richman who ignored the poor Lazarus on earth had to set acquaintance with him through Abraham. Table changes even here on earth. We should take caution.

Again, Lazarus didn’t go to heaven because he was simply poor. It is an error to even think that all poor men and women will have access to heaven simply because of their poor state on earth. The last lesson is that life will at the end give us exactly what we give out. The same gate that separated Lazarus and the richman on earth also separated them in the other world. In the event that the richman had dismantled that barrier on earth, no chasm would have existed in the other world. Every privilege shall be accounted for in due time. It is true that the mother earth may not be fair to all but the other world will be fair to all. We are all makers of our destinies. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God grant us the grace never to be indifferent to the needs of others. God bless you and your household always through Christ Our Lord. Happy Sunday Celebration. Stay safe.

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