St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time C22

I mentioned last week that as Luke gets closer to the climax of his Gospel, his and Jesus’ emphasis only gets stronger on the reverence for life and care for the poor.

Jesus tells another parable about the rich and the poor. This is the only instance in which Jesus uses a name in telling a parable, calling the poor and afflicted man “Lazarus”, a name translated as “God will help”. By doing so, Jesus gave the poor man an identity and a unique, personal dignity while the rich man remained anonymous. 

The rich man was an “insider”, fixated on his clothes, wine and sumptuous meals, shutting his door behind him, leaving Lazarus, an “outsider”, on the wrong side of the closed door, a stark opposite to the luxury inside. Kind of reminds of gated communities and red zones.

But when both of them die, Lazarus was carried by angels to the tender embrace of Abraham; and the rich man, stripped of everything that gave him his identity, dwelt among the nameless dead in the netherworld and was in torment. However, the rich man still didn’t get it; he’s self-centered. He asks Abraham for pity, begging him to send Lazarus, bringing a drop of water (instead of a glass of wine), treating Lazarus as just another servant meant to cater to him. Also what care he has for others extends only to his brothers who are continuing to live the same lifestyle as he did. But, Abraham points out that they have Moses and the prophets, especially Amos, to listen to. Let them learn from the Law and the Prophets how to act. Further, if Lazarus goes to them, risen from the dead, they would not be persuaded; they are so entrenched in their life style.

Jesus isn’t teaching the Pharisees or us that we cannot have a good time. He attended a meal at a Pharisee’s house, went to wedding banquet at which he turned water into wine, six stone water jars which held 20 to 30 gallons, 120 – 180 gallons of wine after the guests had finished the wine from the free bar, and ate with the sinners and tax collectors at Matthew’s house. But he never forgot other people’s’ suffering. Jesus isn’t inviting to go on a guilt trip.

Ah, now I get it. I can eat and drink to my heart’s content as long as I pray for the poor and donate something, it doesn’t matter how much or how little, either money or clothes, for them. I heard a voice saying, “Not so fast, Tom”. While you’re not complacent or indifferent by doing so, you are called to something more: ENCOUNTER!

It’s time to meet the “outsiders”, not L. L. Bean customers, but migrants, refugees and the poor. It’s time to learn their names, treating them as unique individuals, not as a mob to be used as pawns to advance our political or religious goals.

Learn an important lesson from the rich man: The world does not revolve around YOU or ME!

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