BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong



1. Enjoying Life. “Some people are so poor, all they have is money”. Bob Marley. So true. Here is a short story illustrating it. A multi-billionaire was horrified to see a fisherman sitting beside his small boat, playing with a child. “Why aren’t you out fishing?” asked the billionaire. “Because I caught enough fish for today and it’s time to relax with my daughter”, replied the fisherman. “Why don’t you catch some more?” “What would I do with them?” “You could earn more money,” said the billionaire. “Then with a lot of the extra money, you could buy a fishing trawler and make millions from deep sea fishing. Eventually you could have a whole fleet of fishing trawlers and then become a billionaire like me.” “Then what would I do?” asked the fisherman. “Then,” said the billionaire, “you could really enjoy life.” The one-boat fisherman looked at the billionaire, smiled and asked, “What do you think I am doing now?”

2. A Parable for All. Brothers and sisters, our Lord’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus in today’s Gospel reading (Lk 16:19-31) remains a strong admonition to all of us: rich, middleclass, or poor. After declaring as we heard last week, ‘You cannot serve God and Money’ (Luke 16:13), Jesus met stiff opposition from the Pharisees as recorded in the very next verse (Luke 16:14): “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him”. And our Lord responded, ‘What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight’ (Luke 16:15). The Pharisees remained unconvinced. And so our Lord told a parable to emphasize his teaching. He began, as we heard: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.” Let me share with you only 4 out of the many practical lessons I have learned from this parable. These lessons could be themed “how to enjoy life”.

3. Four Practical Lessons.
(i). Both rich and poor do make it to Heaven. Abraham was rich, generous, and faithful to God. He made it. Lazarus also made it. So economic circumstances alone do not determine our final fate.
(ii). Just as the wealth of the rich man did not take him to Hell, the poverty of Lazarus did not take him to Heaven. It was their REACTION to each other on earth that determined their fate. The rich man ignored Lazarus. He refused to help. Lazarus on the other hand was not violent against the rich man. He did not steal from the rich man. He did not curse the rich man or kidnap the rich man. Lazarus made his need for help visible but got no help. He lay there at the gate, resigned and humiliated. By maintaining his tranquility and integrity in the face of poverty, sickness and other adversities, Lazarus proved his righteousness and received the gift of eternal life in Heaven.
(iii). The rich man did not seem to repent even in Hell. He still saw Lazarus as inferior or even an object. He asked Abraham to send Lazarus on errands for him, to bring him water, to go back to earthly life to warn his five brothers. Well, our Lord’s Pearly Gate type of parable, has very interesting details. The rich man did not speak with Lazarus even in Hell. He didn’t care what the opinion of Lazarus might be. He ignored Lazarus both in this life and in the afterlife. Hmmm. However, the rich man spoke with Abraham, a fellow rich man who, in earthly life, treated the Lazaruses very well. Hmmm.
(iv). Those who reject the teaching and preaching of Moses and the Prophets also reject the miracles and parables of Christ. In the words of Abraham according to our Lord’s parable: ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’ So true. You and I have the resurrection of Christ as testimony. Then and now, there are those who were and are not persuaded. Like Lazarus, let us maintain our integrity in the face of challenges, knowing that it does not end here. There is Life afterlife. And like Abraham, let us remain faithful to God and generous with fellow men and women, for that is how to enjoy life in a way that leads to eternal happiness in Heaven. Amen.

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