HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY IN HE ORDINARY TIME ( YR C) SEPTEMBER 29, 2019. First reading : Amos 6:1,4-7; Psalm 146:7,8-9,9-10; 1 Second reading: Timothy 6:11-16; GOSPEL: LUKE 16:19-31
“Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses”.
— Proverbs 28:27
We have gathered my dearest children of God, to keep in touch with the salvific words of Christ. May this encounter on this 26th Sunday, renew our commitment and transform our lives to the greater glory of God.
The reading of today is an admonition to us all. Our generation is becoming overly insensitive and indifferent to the needs of others and the social realities around us. Individualism has taken up the space of communitarian living. Many of us don’t care anymore as long as it does not affect them directly, positively or negatively. God is calling on us to have a rethink and amend our ways before a greater misfortunes befall on us.
The history of the human race has been marked by constant repetition of events. Nothing could be said to be really new in the sense of ‘appearing for the first time’. The various stories we hear in the gospel should not be discredited as mere analogies but understood as having practical, historical and spiritual import. We should, therefore, not approach those gospel stories as mere fictions written for a didactic or pedagogical reason, but should take them as practical instructions, standards or norms to guide us towards living morally and responsibly to please God and to gain eternal life in the end. ((Don’t forget the word of God is inspired)
Today as we reflect on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, I want you to first of all, disengage your mind from thinking you are not rich and see your self as that indifferent person who treats your neighbor unfairly as the rich man was to Lazarus. This gospel passage is not addressed specifically to the materially rich among us, but to us all because we are all richly blessed in one way or another. Being rich or wealthy in a narrow sense might mean having fat bank accounts, having many estates, expensive cars, and industries. But, in this reflection, I would rather choose to adopt a broader sense of the word “rich” which includes ‘anyone who has something that another does not have and who can give what he or she has to help another’.
Have you ever neglected people who had hoped on you as their last hope of survival or solution to a problem? Or have you being neglected by someone whom you hoped as your only way out of a problem? Did you know that the rich man in the parable, was Lazarus’ last hope of survival? Don’t you think Lazarus would have lived longer had the rich man given him the attention he deserved? Well, we all know how it feels to be neglected. The question then is, should we go on neglecting others?
The rich man in the gospel did not commit any sin being rich. His sin(the sin of omission) was his neglect and indifference to Lazarus and that was the sin that led him to hell. Each time we neglect people we should help, we are knocking at the door of hell; but each time we pay attention to the needs of others, we open the doors of blessings . We don’t really need to worry about helping too many at a time, mother saint Theresa says “begin by helping those or the person closest to you”: It may be your family or somebody you don’t know. In the case of Lazarus, he wasn’t really staying far away, but very close – at the gate of the rich man’s house yet he did not receive any attention. The rich man simply did not care or moved with compassion, the same way you and I often don’t care. When we are not moved with compassion for the sufferings of people around us, we lose that which truly defines us as humans and Christians. If you think there is someone who don’t you deserve help, ask yourself if you really deserve to live .
We have poor and impoverished people all around us. Luke makes it clear that the poor are a focus of Jesus’ ministry. In his inaugural sermon, Jesus declares that he has been anointed by the Spirit of the Lord “to bring good news to the poor” (4:18; see also 7:22). Jesus admonishes his followers not just to invite to their parties the friends and neighbors who can repay them, but to extend their invitations to “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” (14:13).
The story of the rich man and Lazarus might be difficult for many of us, especially wealthy North American and Africans whose lifestyle stands in sharp contrast with a majority of people in the world who live on abject poverty. Like so much else that Luke says about money and possessions, it stands as a stinging indictment not only of the great confidence we place in financial security but also of the drastic inequities between rich and poor we allow to perpetuate.
In the first reading, God expresses His anger for the indifference to the poor in our world, when He laments woe to the complacent in Zion (woe to us all). He concludes saying that they will be the first to go into exile and their wanton revelry done away with. You see, our exile may no longer be in Babylon but eternal damnation if we don’t amend our ways. Paul therefore, encourages us to pursue righteousness and eternal life which we are called for.
My dear, today is your opportunity to amend your ways. Remember that fortunes may reverse as it happened between Lazarus and the rich man ( fortunes might even reverse in this life). Being a poor person like Lazarus does not qualify you for eternal life, because there are many poor people today who perpetrate evil in society. In the same vein, being rich does not lead one to hell because there are many generous and selfless rich people in our world who will make heaven. Righteousness in whatever condition you find yourself is what determines your eternal destination. God rewards each person according to his or her deeds( cf. Rom2:6 ).
“ A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love .”–St. Basil
We all on earth, are the brothers and sisters of the rich man. And we have all heard his bitter testimony about the experience in hell. If you like, you can doubt the existence of hell and don’t try to learn from the mistakes of the rich man in order to have eternal consolation at the end of this earthly life. Be kind, generous, caring and considerate of others. We came into this world with nothing and we shall all leave with nothing( cf. 1Tim 6:7). The time to change is now, tomorrow may be too late.
May the peace of Christ be with. God’s grace is sufficient for you, work with it.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers
Prayer: Sacred Heart of Jesus make my heart like unto thine 3x.
©Clem C Aladi