Today’s gospel was the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the poor man. See below. The main points of my homily were:
Each Sunday’s gospel contains important lessons for our lives but today’s is particularly important because it relates to salvation – who gets saved and who doesn’t.
The Rich Man in the parable would probably count as an honest and decent individual if he was one of our neighbours. As far as we know he kept all the Ten Commandments, said his prayers, looked after his children’s welfare, etc.
The only problem was that he couldn’t care less about the poor, and particularly Lazarus who was at his gates. Lazarus was so pitiable that even the dogs came and licked his sores. The Rich Man on the other hand didn’t even see fit to give him the crumbs that fell from his table.
Both men died. Lazarus was saved and the Rich Man was lost. The lesson is as simple as it is profound: salvation requires that we are generous to the poor. We can do this by giving to charities that assist the poor – including the unborn child who is even deprived of its right to life.
When I was in the US, I knew many Christians who lived by the Biblical principle of tithing – giving 10% of one’s gross income to God and charity. Although some where of modest incomes, it never meant that the family was left short – God blessed their generosity. It may require that one lives by the Gandhi Principle: Live simply so others can simply live.
This article which I put into the parish newsletter illustrates what a Christian life should be like.
Sr Consilio of the Mercy Sisters had done marvellous work in helping those addicted to alcohol and drugs. The Cuan Mhuire (Mary’s Harbour) centres are currently celebrating their 50th anniversary. Her motto relates directly to today’s gospel of outreach to the poor: I shall pass this way but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to my fellow man, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.
Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames”. “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”
‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too”. “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them.”. “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead”.’