What is striking in today’s Gospel is that Jesus is silent on the other details of the rich man’s life. He may have been a good and honest man, that we don’t know; Jesus didn’t include this in the parable. From the reading, we can conclude that he loved his brothers but he was indifferent to Lazarus. He lived in luxury ‘… dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day’, and went to hell after he died, while Lazarus the frail beggar lived in misery ‘…covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table’, and went to Heaven. (Lk. 16: 19-31)
Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s readings. We are again reminded of being good stewards of the wealth entrusted to us. If we own lands, we have legal rights in the eyes of the law. However, God has designed it differently: we are just stewards of His property. This was the issue with the rich man; He was just God’s caretaker. What he failed to appreciate is the fact that Lazarus was God’s face, a person who deserved to be treated better. But the rich man saw instead a ragged and sickly man.
In the first reading, the Prophet Amos tells of the fate of God’s people who are ‘complacent,’ ‘stretched comfortably on their couches,’ ‘devise their own accompaniment,’ and ‘anoint themselves with the best oils.’ As we read these words, let us reflect: are we not like them? Let us be wary, as we might be doomed similarly, as they ‘shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.’ (Am. 6:7)
God assures of His compassion and mercy on the person who ‘who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry.’ (Ps.146: 7) In the second reading, St. Paul wrote Timothy: ‘But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called…’ (1 Tim. 6: 12)
In the world today, we find similar concerns on people becoming complacent; complacent in their homes, in their communities, and in their faith. Many times too, people become complacent as Catholics. There was a time when me and my wife were new into our ministry in the Couples for Christ, when a household evening competed with the basketball game of my favorite team. That time we have to make that conscious decision that the Lord’s business should prevail over our other interests. We have to be cautious when we start to tailor-fit our service to God to our own liking. Without our knowing we can suddenly ignore and become indifferent. We neglect our faith. We forget the basic tenet of sharing to the less fortunate. We become comfortable, we get proud.
Let us pray that we may be granted the grace to be Jesus Christ’ face, hands and feet to others so that we may be joining Him at the other side of the ‘great chasm’, where Abraham and Lazarus are.
‘Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich’. (2 Cor. 8: 9)