FR. GERALD MUOKA HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: THE SIN OF ‘DOING NOTHING’ (INDIFFERENCE).
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 25 2022
R1 – Amos 6:1a, 4-7
R2 – 1Tim 6:11-16
GOSPEL – Luke 16:19-31
It was during the Korean War in 1954. There were American soldiers fighting the war in Korea and it was hard. It was the cold winter and the war had moved to the forest area. There was knee-deep snow and in that situation, 43 American Soldiers were captured and were put in a small hut. They had no fire to warm them and did not have sufficient clothes to protect them from severe cold. The only way to warm them was by huddling themselves and the body heat would keep them alive. In the group were two persons who were sick with diarrhoea and it was not pleasant to have them in the group. Then one soldier got up, picked one and put him out, and came to pick the other and did the same. Both the soldiers died instantly. No one said anything. The war was over and the forty-one were rescued. When they were all court-martialed, there was one accused and forty witnesses. They were asked the same three questions: did you see what was happening and all answered and said they did see it all. The second was they knew what would happen and all said that they knew of instant death. The final question asked was why you didn’t do anything and each answered the same way, “It was none of my business,” they responded.
Beloved in Christ, the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy invite us to reflect on the ugly nature and effects of the sin of ‘indifference’ in our Christian life. However, its nature and effects are well captured in the introit story. The sin of the other forty soldiers was not of commission, rather omission. They ‘did nothing’ when they were supposed to do ‘something.’
In the first reading, the prophet Amos, called out the Aristocrats in Israel for neglecting the poor. These Aristocrats were idle, insensitive to the needs of the poor while they lived in luxury. They failed to recognize their connectedness with others and their responsibility.
In the second reading, we see Paul’s words of admonition to young Timothy, who was an Overseer in the church at Ephesus. To understand this message in connection with today’s reading, one needs to take a backward step to verse 10, “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the Faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (1Timothy 6:10). So, he encourages Timothy never to allow these earthly values lead him away from faith.
The gospel reading, presents us with the beautiful story of Lazarus and the rich man. The first question that comes to the fore is, what actually is the sin of this rich man? Obviously, he committed no physical crime against Lazarus. He did not order his men that Lazarus be removed from the gate of his house or manhandled him. He did not stop him from making away with the leftover that fell from his table. Yet he is given such a negative designation by Jesus in the parable. This shows that God expects more from us than we think. God is not only offended by commission, but by omission too. This is the sin that will lead many of us to hell. So, the sin of the rich man was that he never took noticed of Lazarus’ plight. He did nothing when he should have done something. In the Catholic teaching, that is the sin of omission.
*THE SIN OF INDIFFERENCE:* *EXEGETICAL ANTECEDENTS AND DEMANDS OF THE PARABLE OF LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN.*
Jesus told this parable, firstly, to condemn the Pharisees for their love of money and lack of mercy for the poor. He also used the parable to correct three Jewish misconceptions held and taught by the Sadducees:
(i) Material prosperity in this life is God’s reward for moral uprightness, while poverty and illness are God’s punishment for sins. Hence, there is no need to help the poor and the sick for they have been cursed by God.
(ii) Since wealth is a sign of God’s blessing, the best way of thanking God is to enjoy it by leading a life of luxury and self-indulgence in dress, eating and drinking, of course, after giving God His portion as tithe.
(iii) The parable also addresses the Sadducees’ false doctrine which denied the soul’s survival after death, and, so, the consequent retribution our deeds and neglects in this life will receive in the next. _(Curled from Fr. K Anthony Exegesis)_ .
Hence, the major concern of this parable is to condemn the rich who ignore the poor they encounter.
The parable also offers an invitation to each one of us to be conscious of the sufferings of those around us and to share our blessings generously.
Generally, Lazarus is used contextually in this parable to encompass the poor, the sick, the unloved, the homeless and the unfortunate around us.
George Bernard once said, “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them, that is the essence of inhumanity.” This yields to the earlier stated point that, the sin of the rich man was not that he ordered or kicked Lazarus out of his home, or shouted at him or manhandled him, rather, his was a sin of Indifference.
This sin of indifference is a punishment to others which we must be punished for partaking.
(1) *GENEROSITY IS A MAJOR CRITERION FOR JUDGMENT*
Today’s parable of Lazarus and the rich man reminds us that generosity is indeed a criterion for our entry into eternity. We equally see this in Matthew (25:31ff), where the righteous will be separated from the unrighteous, based on the principle of altruism: showing concern to the needs of others
(2) *INDIFFERENCE IS A PUNISHMENT ON OTHERS, WHICH WE MUST RECEIVE PUNISHMENT FOR IN RETURN.*
Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said,
“The greatest disease in our society is not Tuberculosis or leprosy or aids, it is being neglected, unwanted, unloved and uncared for.”
So, none of us is so poor that he cannot give or render assistance to someone. Invariably, we are all rich enough to share our blessings with others. Each of us as an incommunicable and unrepeatable person, has our own uniqueness to add taste and value to the world and people around us. The parable invites us to share what we have been given out of our uniqueness with others, instead of using everything exclusively for selfish gains.
Finally, there was a story about a Franciscan monk in Australia assigned to be the guide and ‘gofer’ to Mother Teresa when she visited New South Wales. Thrilled and excited at the prospect of being so close to this great woman, he dreamed of how much he would learn from her and what they would talk about. But during her visit, he became frustrated. Although he was constantly near her, the friar never had the opportunity to say one word to Mother Teresa. There were always other people for her to meet. Finally, her tour was over, and she was due to fly to New Guinea. In desperation, the Franciscan friar spoke to Mother Teresa: “If I pay my own fare to New Guinea, can I sit next to you on the plane so I can talk to you and learn from you?” Mother Teresa looked at him. “You have enough money to pay airfare to New Guinea?” she asked. “Yes,” he replied eagerly. — “Then give that money to the poor,” she said. “You’ll learn more from that than anything I can tell you.”
Beloved, Mother Teresa understood that Jesus’ ministry was to the poor and she made it hers as well. We too can pay more attention to the poor and needy around us.
MAY THE LORD GIVE US A HEART THAT MELTS AND FEELS FOR HUMANITY IN THE UNLOVED, NEEDY AND POOR.