Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are presented with a choice to be followed in life. We are presented with the choice between serving and following the Lord, putting our trust and faith in Him, or whether we prefer to serve and follow our own ways and paths, trusting in our own strength, indulging in all the temptations of this world. This is a choice given to all of us, which we may freely choose, and this is why we should reflect closely on what we have heard in the Scriptures today.
In our first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, the prophet spoke of the curse against those who followed the path of disobedience against God, namely those who trusted in themselves and in worldly matters more than they trusted in God. While those who trust in God will have the assurance of God’s providence and blessings, His promise of eternal life and glory everlasting, which we cannot gain unless we have faith in God.
This then leads us to our Gospel passage today which recounts to us the famous parable of the Lord Jesus, which is about Lazarus, the poor man and a rich man at whose house’s doorstep Lazarus always dwelled, hoping for the rich man to give him even the scraps of bread and food that fell from the table. But no one would give anything to Lazarus, and the poor man died in suffering and agony, abandoned and unloved by anyone. The rich man as mentioned in the Gospel, also then died.
We heard how Lazarus the poor man ended up in Paradise, in the presence of God in heaven with Abraham, enjoying the fullness of God’s inheritance and grace, no longer suffering the pains and torments that he had once endured while he was still alive in the world. Meanwhile, we heard of the rich man who descended into the depths of hell, suffering in agony for eternity, without any hope of respite or escape, and even when he begged Abraham to send Lazarus for help, it was impossible for that to happen.
The Lord used this parable to show us that it is very easy for us to be swayed and tempted by riches and by the other pleasures of the world. When He used the example of Lazarus and the rich man, we must be careful not to think that the Lord condemns the rich or despises them, for fundamentally we must understand that God loves all of us, His beloved children and people, regardless of our background, our material well-being, our race or any of our worldly distinctiveness. He loves all, regardless whether they are poor or rich, weak or powerful.
But what He wanted to point out through this parable is that we as sons and daughters of men are weak and easily tempted by the many worldly riches, pleasures, all the pull of desire of the flesh, the temptation of money, of fame and glory, of gluttony and greed. And the more we have with us, the more susceptible we are to those temptations, like that of the rich man who was swallowed up by his desires that he ignored and forgot all about Lazarus, who was suffering by his doorstep.
What the rich man sinned from was from the sin of omission, that sin of neglecting his fellow brother when he was obviously in the position to help Lazarus and provide for him through the excess in material goods and the provisions that God has blessed him with. And this is an important reminder for all of us Christians in this season of Lent, that we ourselves must also not be ignorant of the needs of those around us, who have been neglected and less fortunate than us.
We are all called to love one another more generously and to share the many wonderful blessings that God has given us with each other. If we truly have faith in God and trust in Him, then we should not be worried in sharing what we have with one another, as ultimately, as we show our love for our fellow brethren, we truly are blessed by God and He will remember us for our love and for our faithfulness at the day of judgment. Lazarus’ fate will be ours and we will enjoy the fullness of God’s providence and love.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, starting from this season of Lent and beyond, let us all be more charitable in giving, be less selfish and be less consumed by our desires for worldly sustenance and temptations. Let us make use of the observances this Lent of fasting and abstinence, to control our urges and desires so that we may open our eyes and see the plight of our less fortunate and suffering brethren all around us, and share our love and blessings with them.
Let us all be true Christians and disciples of the Lord from now on, being more faithful to God with each passing days. And let us all seek to be ever more faithful and deepen our relationship with God in this season fo Lent. May God bless us all and our good efforts in faith. Amen.