THEME: Concern for others a key to eternal bliss!

BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara



(AMOS 6:1A, 4-7, 1 TIMOTHY 6:11-16, LUKE 16:19-31)

All the readings of this Sunday are continuations of the readings of last Sunday. They center on the day of God’s judgement. Most importantly, they point to the final end of the unjust, the triumph and comfort of the poor in spirit and the just. The first reading and the Gospel try to teach us to care about what happens to others. It is a teaching that all of us need to hear from time to time. The Word of God challenges us to place the common good and social justice at the center of our lives. It warns us against self-centered living, personal gain, and indifference to the crying need of the world.

The first reading, from the Prophet Amos, tells us about our Hebrew ancestors in Zion, not caring that part of their people precisely the northern kingdom of Israel, have been destroyed and taken away. All of us suffer from this same tendency and culture of indifference: if a catastrophe does not affect us personally and directly, then we can easily forget about it. Even today, with televisions and modern media, when we can see the awful things that happen in our world, we often find ourselves not caring much about what happens to others. On the other hand, if we know that something is going to affect us, then we begin to care passionately.

The Gospel is Jesus’ story about a rich man and a poor man to show how easy it is to have poor people living right on our doorstep and yet we pay no attention to them. Today’s gospel is unique in the sense that it touches a very important aspect of our Christian life and believe. That is, eschatology or the theology of the end of time. It concerns and reassures us of the comfort of those who mourn now on earth as Christ promised: “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted (Mt 5: 4). Excessive comfort, and display of affluence here on earth which does not impart positively on the life of others especially the poor, will not profit us much at the end of time. They will not guarantee our ticket into the “bosom of Abraham.”
This story of Jesus comes only in Luke, another of those dreadful warnings of the danger of wealth. There are three particularly horrible features of today’s parable: firstly, the flea-ridden dogs licking Lazarus’ sores: there are no pets in Palestine; dogs are either bristling guard-dogs or mangy curs. Secondly, the Rich Man’s continuing self-absorption and vaunting: even after death he still does not recognize Lazarus’ existence and thinks only of his own burning tongue; contrasts Abraham’s gentleness: it almost looks as though he would cross the chasm if he could. Thirdly, the obdurate and obstinate brothers; they are just not willing to listen, even to the most startling event; nothing will distract them from their own selfish pre-occupations.
So, my brothers and sisters, Jesus is trying to tell us that: “Your heaven is here, not when you die going someplace. Your heaven is here.” And how are you going to achieve that heaven? “I am the life. I am the truth. I am the way. As I love, you love. As I care, you care. As I suffer and sacrifice for other people, for brothers and sisters, you do that, and your heaven has arrived.” There is so much indifference and inaction with regards to critical issues of our time. There is so much resistance and opposition to the call to change the status quo, even when the status quo is failing the poor and the powerless. Only those who are focused and not distracted by the excessive comfort of this world will easily notice and attend to the Christ in the “Lazarus” around them.
God bless you!

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