YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK OF LENT
HOMILY THEME: THE SIN OF OMISSION: Failure to bridge the gulf!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: *Jer 17:5-10, Lk 16:19 – 31.
Today’s gospel, for me, is one of the most frightening passages in the scripture full of eschatological and didactic insights. Let me just discuss 3 points:
- The sin of the Rich man; He was such a rich fool! Rich fools don’t realize that this world is like an onion – you peel off its skins hoping to find something inside only to get disappointed. He was condemned not because he was rich but because his wealth had made him insensitive to the poor man’s needs and so, he put his trust in money rather than in God.
All that the poor man Lazarus desired was to be fed with crumbs from the rich man’s table but all that he got was for his sores to be licked by the rich man’s dogs. Stupid rich men do not realize that every excess wealth they have belongs by right to the poor. Their sin of omission is negligence, self indulgence, comfort and ease in the midst of a suffering neighbour.
The Punishment of the Rich man; His 1st punishment for his insensitivity is anonymity. Greed and indifference leads to anonymity. People are only remembered in this life for the good things they did. Detachment and charity leads to immortality, 1 Cor 13:13.
According to H Fielding, ‘Riches without charity are worthless. They are a blessing only to him who makes them a blessing for others’. When a little gold or silver comes between you and the world, you see only yourself. But the reality of death for both the poor and the rich quickly stares us in the face. Angels took the poor man Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom while the Rich man was condemned to the torment of Hades.
The Reward of the Poor man; He didn’t go to heaven not just because he was poor (poverty is not a virtue) but because he put his trust in the Lord while on earth. He may have suffered poverty because he insisted on being righteous when his colleagues in service were doing all sorts of corrupt things to get rich. The eschatological reversal is the manifestation of the Justice of God for those who were victims of injustice would be rewarded with the beatific vision while the evil perpetrators of injustice are also rewarded with eternal damnation. It is a double tragedy to lose happiness on earth and lose it also in heaven.
CONCLUSION: During this lenten season, if this parable does not wake us up from our self centredness and insensitivity to people’s pain, our slumber will wake us up only in hell. The rich man did not lead a vicious life. He was not accused of drunkenness or of philandering with women. He was not a monster who lusted after other’s blood but a perfect gentleman who does not even trouble a foul smelling begger hobnobbing at his gate.
Yet, because he did not care much about bridging the gulf between the rich and the poor on earth, he is now separated by a huge and miserable gulf in hell. His two prayers were unanswered; one for the alleviating of his painful torment of flames, the second was warning to his 5 brothers. He was told that if his brothers cannot listen to the priests and preachers in their parishes, they will still make hell. According to Fr Emma Onuh of blessed memory, ‘When I am hungry and I have nothing to eat, it is a physical problem; But when my neighbour is hungry and I have something to eat and does not share it, it is a moral problem ‘. I wish the Church leaders; priests and laity would realize that failure to bridge the gulf between the rich and the poor in our country, Nigeria (and beyond) is the greatest failure of the modern day Church.
May God bless you today!