Jesus said to his disciples, «Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man's table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.
»It happened that the poor man died and angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out: ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus with the tip of his finger dipped in water to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire’. Abraham replied: ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you or from your side to us’.
»The rich man implored once more: ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father's house where my five brothers live. Let him warn them so that they may not end up in this place of torment’. Abraham replied: ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them’. But the rich man said: ‘No, Father Abraham. But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent’. Abraham said: ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’».
We all in our sincerity wish to avoid the final day judgement ending up against our wish. However, while we have a wonderful opportunity of getting that judgement on a right path, we fail radically. Though I am little harsh on my proposition, I believe that I have reason to say so.
What went wrong for this rich man, is not simply as he was not charitable or failed to share, or even identify the poor at the door step, but rather very serious that he failed to know himself and the very finality of his life. Without knowing ourselves, how can we know God and His will in our personal life? Many of us don’t know what we are, who we are and the goodness that God has showered on us. Thus, we end up in burring the very little talent that we have identified, without doing anything to use them correctly and forget about multiplying them. God has put this little talent in us with the hope of being useful for us and the way we use them, that they may produce much more for others.
This rich man failed to know the goodness that God has blessed him, thus failed to share that goodness with others. Since he didn’t realize how rich he was, he failed to see the suffering of the others and that his richness was the solution that God has proposed to the world as a solution for the poverty. The day we realize the blessings we have received from God, the better will be our engagement towards the building of the Kingdom of God, because every talent received has its own finality.
If God has given these talents (richness) to us, each according to our capacities, He has put His confidence in us and wishes that by using these talents that we may grow. It is in the growth of each and every individual that a weaker section of the society is taken care. In every personal development and our engagement in sharing our knowledge and richness that God responds to the cry of the poor and the oppressed. Thus, by not doing what he was supposed to do, which was simple and easy, in all his capacity, the rich man worked against the divine will.
Action of the day: Use the goodness received to its finality.
«If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the grave»
Fr. Xavier SOBREVÍA i Vidal
Today, the Gospel is a parable discovering the realities of man in afterlife. Jesus tells us about the divine reward or retribution we shall have depending upon our behavior.
The contrast between the rich and the poor is very strong. The luxury of the rich and his indifference to the plight of poor Lazarus lying at his door, his pathetic situation, even when dogs used to come and lick his sores (cf. Lk 16:19-21). It all has a deep realism introducing us into the scene.
We might ponder, where would I be if I was one of the two main characters of the parable? Our society reminds us, constantly, that we have to live well, in comfort and well-being, enjoying ourselves, worry free... To live for oneself, without minding others, or at the very best, the minimum necessary to keep one's conscience at ease, but certainly not because of a sense of justice, love or solidarity.
Today, we are presented with the need to listen to God in this life, to convert ourselves and take advantage of the time He offers us. God will eventually call us to account. In this life we risk our eternal life.
Jesus is quite explicit about the reality of Hell and He describes some of its characteristics: the sorrow senses suffer —«and send Lazarus with the tip of his finger dipped in water to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire» (Lk 16:24)— and its eternity —«Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed» (Lk 16:26).
Saint Gregory the Great tells us that «all these things are told so that nobody may apologize because of their ignorance». We have got to get rid of the old man and be free to be able to love our fellow man. We have to react to the suffering of the poor, the unwell or the forsaken. It would be good we might frequently remember this parable so that it would made us more responsible of our life. We all will have to face the moment of death. And we should better be always ready because one day we shall be judged.