Right Here and Right Now
25 September 2022, 26th Sunday in the Ordinary Time
Lk 16: 19-31
Indifference. Implications. Integrity.
First, on indifference. How is indifference depicted in today’s readings? In the 1st Reading, prophet Amos castigated Israel for, in their abundance, they have failed to share with the needy. They were just so complacent with what they have. Maybe, we can ask Amos, “What if they deserved to enjoy life because they worked hard? What if they deserved to have fun because they did much, have achieved much and have contributed much?” Well, these questions, in a way, pose dangers for they manifest self-entitlement. If we focus on ourselves, there is a tendency to be indifferent towards others. And indifference can kill our souls.
In the Gospel, the rich man is indifferent towards the poor man named Lazarus. Yes, he’s feasting. But he’s feasting everyday! In everyday that he feasted sumptuously, everyday he was indifferent towards Lazarus. He was enjoying abundance of food while he never dared to share some that he had to Lazarus. He was dressed in royalty but he never even clothed Lazarus whose body was covered with sores. He could see Lazarus suffer but his being indifferent created a big gap. If we have decided not to do what is just for those who are in need, who are rejected, we are already dead. Why? Indifference has already killed our souls.
Second, on implications. What would be the implications of being indifferent? One, there is a complete reversal. In the 1st Reading, prophet Amos warned the chosen People that if they’d remain greedy, they would never remain in their comfort zone; they’d be the first ones to be driven away for not helping the last, the least and the lost. In the Gospel, when both the rich man and Lazarus died, the rich man is now being tormented in Hades while Lazarus is with Father Abraham. This complete reversal tells us that even if we do not get justice here and now, God, in the fullness of time, will do it. Thus, there is justice, no more just-tiis.
Two, we will reap what we sow; we will harvest what we have planted. If our abundance does not make us sensitive and generous towards others especially those who are in need, God will teach us a lesson. If our indifference would lead us to distance and to tension, God will teach us a lesson. If our being wealthy leads us to complacency, God will teach us a lesson. Will God teach us a lesson by punishing us? I don’t think so. But our insensitivity, lack of generosity, our complacency and indifference that manifest mediocrity are themselves punishments that we have inflicted on ourselves. How poor we could be if in all things we lack charity!
What can we do while we still have time? This is the third point. We are called to live a life of integrity, not later, but here and now. In the 2nd Reading, St Paul encourages Timothy that as an ordained minister, one has to shun entitlement, self-aggrandizement and egoistic moves by pursuing righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness (1Tim6:11) because as having been chosen to lead by service, Timothy is a “man of God”.
As Christians, we all belong to God and in Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. We can be men and women of integrity if we see Lazarus, feel Lazarus and do good deeds towards Lazarus. And the name Lazarus means “God is my help”. We have many Lazaruses here and now. The poor, in many ways, are crying help to God. If we do not share and show our faith by good works to these people, our prayers and worship can be empty. Why? The face of Jesus, according to St Teresa of Calcutta, is present among the last, the least and the lost. If the world regards the poor as useless, God loves and will give them that which is best. Like Lazarus, God shall be their help.
In the afterlife, Lazarus was given eternal life. But eternal life does not begin when we die. Eternal life starts here and now. As Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it unto me.” The Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy are our concrete participation in God’s ongoing act of salvation. As St Teresa of Avila said, “Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Let us not procrastinate. Let us care, not sooner, but here and now. Let us help, not later, but here and now. Let us reach out to others, not tomorrow, but here and now. Let us be Jesus to every Lazarus here and now. Why? As Christians, eternal life begins here and now.
Indifference. Implications. Integrity. Where are we, who are we and what are doing here and now? Amen.
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