YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: PUNISHED FOR DOING NOTHING?
BY: Rev. Fr. Jacob Aondover ATSU
HOMILY: READINGS: AMOS 6:1.4-7, PSALM 146, 1TIMOTHY 6:11-16, LUKE 16:19-31
√•Don’t be blinded by luxury
√•Don’t amass wealth at the expense of the poor
√•Don’t neglect the poor and suffering
√•Refusal to do good may earn us condemnation before God.
Last Sunday we heard the courageous prophet Amos condemn the rich men of the Northern Kingdom, Israel, for their injustice and oppression of the poor, and how God promised never to forget their evil deeds (8:4-7). Today, my dearly beloved in Christ we see him denouncing the luxurious living of the leaders in Judah, who paid no attention to the plight of Joseph. He equally foretold that a day of retribution awaited them; a day which came to pass twenty five years after his death. This same thought and condemnation is taken up by the evangelist Luke who has a special place for the poor, sick and women in his gospel. Jesus condemns ‘INCONSIDERATION’ and closing our hearts to the plight of those who suffer around us. Luke 16:19-31 teaches us that we CAN BE PUNISHED FOR DOING NOTHING WHEN WE SHOULD ACTUALLY DO EVERYTHING.
Dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, Amos’ message stands as one of the most powerful voices ever to challenge hypocrisy and injustice. He boldly indicts kings, priests, and leaders (6:1, 7:9, 16-17). He insisted that the rich ought to be fair, considerate and attend to the plight of poor. Amos could not understand why people laid on ivory beds, rolled on couches, fed on lambs and calves, drank wine from choicest bowls, anointted themselves with expensive oils and had musicians playing songs for them as they dined while a vast majority went to bed hungry every other day if not daily.
Only the unwise may look at the message of Amos and that of Christ in the gospel with the lens of antiquity, considering it as something of the past generation. The rich men of Amos’ time and Dives, the rich man in our gospel passage lived flamboyantly and hoarded possessions they did not need at the expense of the poor of their day. Lazarus was always at the rich man’s gate providing him an opportunity to win God’s favour through charity and be saved but he was too blinded by luxurious living and could not see Lazarus.
Ours today is a society full of impoverished people who barely afford a decent meal in a week; there are those wallowing in abject poverty and some dying because of hunger and minor ailments that one should be surprised killed someone. It is a society of gross inequality where the poor grow poorer and the rich grow richer. We live in a world where the privileged few like Dives and the rich of Amos’ time are figures of indolent self-indulgence. They are lethargic, sluggishly idling away in their comfort zones even as they enjoy their ill-gotten wealth at the detriment of the poor whom their selfishness has impoverished. God swears on the pride of Jacob not to forget any our evil deeds (Amos 8:7). It is indeed a wakeup call to repent, believe the good news for the kingdom of heaven is indeed near (Mk.1:15).
At the Confiteor everyday at Mass we say: ‘I confess to almighty God…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…’ meaning we sin when we refuse doing what is right, when we deny rendering help to those in need when we actually are able (Prov. 3:27). 1John 2:17 says “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?” “Do not say to your neighbour, tomorrow I will give, when you have it with you” (Prov. 3:28). Dives was punished in hades not because he extorted from Lazarus, sent him away from his home or did anything offensive to him; he was punished for being wicked, inconsiderate and selfish. Damnation may befall us like it did the rich of Amos’ time and Dives if we do not render help to those in need even as we enjoy our riches.
Jesus wants us to realize that the class distinctions and inequalities prevalent in our world are against God’s plan. The things of the world are for all and meant to be shared fairly. Those who have more should give to those with nothing (2Cor.8:13-14), so that all can live lives worthy of human beings. It was St. Ambrose who said, “When you give to the poor, you are not giving him what is yours, but returning to him that which is his, for the goods of the earth belong to all”. This is no call for us to go about not doing anything and waiting for the rich to share their wealth with us. It is a call to pay attention to those around us and the needs they have.
Lazarus, (the Latinized form of Eleazar means God is my help); though a helpless beggar covered with ulcerated sores and could not even ward off street dogs from pestering him here on earth; enjoyed eternity in Abraham’s bosom while the rich man had to endure the horrendous heat of hell. We may want to do the needful today before it’s too late!
FEED AND EDUCATE ONE POOR