THEME: Be sensitive and responsive to the needs of others.

BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya


Amos 6:1a. 4-7
Psalm 146
1Timothy 6:11-16
Luke 16:19-31

A Franciscan monk was assigned to be the tour guide of St. Theresa of Calcutta when she visited Australia. Thrilled and excited at the prospect of getting so closed to this great woman, he dreamed of how much he would learn from her and what they would talk about. Although the monk was always next to St. Theresa, he never had a time to personally interact with her, because there were always other people for her to meet. Finally, her tour was over and she had to fly to New Guinea. In desperation, the monk asked: “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?” St Theresa looked at him and asked “You have enough money to pay airfare to New Guinea?” “Yes” He replied. “Then give the money to the poor.”

My dear friends in Christ, our liturgy today calls us to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of others, most especially the poor.

In the first reading of today, the prophet Amos goes hard against the elites of Israel, not just for being elites, not just for being rich, wealthy and comfortable, but for their insensitivity and complacency. “Woe to the complacent in Zion!” Beloved in Christ, God holds nothing ill against the rich; of course He created the goods of the world for our wellbeing. But God will not pardon the insensitivity arising from so much satisfaction and comfort, such that we pay no attention to the deteriorating condition of the society, which greatly on the other hand affects the wellbeing of the poor. “They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph.” The accusation against them was their insensitivity to the collapse of Joseph.

In our country today, many people are not made ill by the collapsing national economy. They care nothing about the dilapidating condition of the country, the worsening state of insecurity, the everlasting universities strike. Whether the poor man is dying is not their headache, so far they have enough to send their children to schools in Europe and the Americas and they can travel to check on them every semester or travel there to have their stomach-ache checked out. For all they care, the poor man can go to hell. It is simply not their business. It is the business of the government to provide for the citizens. Yet, when the government provides food on the table and set it down for the rich and the poor, it is the rich who get there first (because they can afford to get there faster than the poor) and take all for themselves, leaving nothing for the poor to help themselves with.

Dear friends in Christ, at this point I invite us to recite the Confiteor together as in at the beginning of mass “I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned; in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do…” Let us wait there! Did we just say “… and what I have failed to do?” That is the reason Jesus gave the parable of the rich man and Lazarus today, to teach us a great lesson. Very often when we approach the confessional, we are often careful listing our sins through commission, leaving out or not even taking cognizance of our sins through omission, that is, what we should have done that we failed to do.

In the gospel passage of today, the rich man did not go to hell because he was rich or because he maltreated Lazarus by chasing him away, no! He ended in hell because he was so comfortable to the point that he lacked ‘common sense.’ Yes, common sense should dictate to him that since he has enough for himself, provision should be made for the poor Lazarus who always sat at his gate, hoping to eat from the leftovers. Perhaps, the leftovers are even treated to the dogs. What a shame!

Many of us are just as guilty as this rich man because, we are surrounded by so many Lazarus today, yet we don’t ever get to notice them. The world around us is so tinted with comfort and satisfaction that we just don’t give a care about the conditions of those around us. We just want to mind our business. I hope none of my readers/listeners is saying “Hmmn, thank God I’m still struggling with life too.” Beloved in Christ, no matter your present situation, there is one Lazarus out there waiting to eat from the crumbs that fall off your table. So make provision for some crumbs for Lazarus.

Who is the richest man in Africa? You know him? Very good. The richest woman in Africa also, you know her? Very good. So let me ask you, who is the poorest man in your local government? I guess you don’t know who that is. Perhaps you know the richest man and woman in Africa because their name is everywhere, in Forbes, Ovation Magazine, on the internet and social media. And perhaps, you don’t know the poorest person in your local government simply because nobody is giving them any recognition.

But in the gospel reading of today, surprisingly it is not the rich man but the poor man that Jesus identifies by name. He is called Lazarus, the name which means “God will be good to me”. Usually it is the poor and needy who are anonymous in the world’s value system. Very often we know the names of the wealthy and powerful. But those who according to the standard of power and social prestige are the most important are often anonymous before God. Power and wealth are of no importance to God. So those that we think are nothing in the eyes of the world are actually the apple of God’s eye.

The punch line of the parable comes at the end. When both men died, the one who had nothing has all in heaven but the one who had everything has nothing but his thirst. A key consideration for each of us is our own attitude toward all the material and spiritual goods we hold in our hands, whether our hands will be open or closed when it comes to others.

Let us pray, Lord Jesus, open our eyes to the many ways we can be seduced by wealth. Free us from any wrong reliance on it that prevents us from trusting more and more in you and sharing with the poor. Amen.

*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*

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