Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are introduced today to an important catechesis of the faith, that is on the fate of our soul, when we go to the afterlife after our life in this world ends. And it was made clear to us by the story of Lazarus and the rich man, to show the contrast between the two fates that are possible for all of us.
Nevertheless, I would like to warn all of you first to be very careful in reading and understanding this part of the Gospels, as it is easy to be misunderstood and misrepresented, as if Jesus is advocating a sort of class war or conflict between the poor and the rich. And neither should we equate poverty with salvation and riches with damnation. Not all poor will end up in eternal joy, and many rich ones will also be saved.
In order to truly understand the meaning behind the passage, we have to understand the context behind Jesus’ teaching of the parables to His students. At the time of Jesus, and as it is similar in our world today, the divide and gap in the society in terms of wealth and affluence was very pronounced, and the rich ones were very rich with great excess, while the poor was very poor, having almost nothing on themselves.
Thus, it is easier for Jesus to teach the people, if He said them in a manner which can be easily understandable to the people, and hence His choice of characters and the story, to highlight the disparity between the two. Lazarus the poor man had nothing, and sat down in front of the rich man’s mansion hoping that the rich man would spare him some food from his table.
The rich man spared him nothing, and continued to live in splendour and great excess, partying day after day without any concern for those who were less fortunate than him. So that is why, after he died, the Lord gave him his due that is hopelessness, and eternal suffering in hell, to suffer with the devil and his fellow fallen angels.
Meanwhile Lazarus was welcomed into heaven, to enjoy forever the fruits of God’s love, to enjoy the food of everlasting life and he will no longer experience hunger, unlike what he had to go through in life. This is certainly what we all want as well. After all, who will choose hell over heaven? Nobody wants suffering, because we all want happiness.
This certainly should have taught us a good lesson, that if we forget to do what is expected from us by God, then we will be judged and deemed unworthy of heaven. Remember, brethren, that the wealth and possessions that we have is a gift for us, and it is not evil. There is nothing wrong in fact with people having more wealth than others.
However, wealth itself is neutral, but it can be used for either good or bad purposes. Like the rich man, who ignored the plight of Lazarus, he failed to utilise his abundance for a good purpose, and thus he was judged against. He failed to love another mankind, and therefore this ignorance spoke out against him when he is judged by the Judge of all life.
What is of concern to us is regarding the culture of waste and excess that often permeates in our society, and we often do not think about those who do not even have enough. We often consume more than what we need, even to the point of gluttony. We forget that the excesses can be given to those who have little and none that they may have enough.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the story of Lazarus and the rich man, that we may from now on consider our own lifestyle, whether we have been charitable to those who have little or none, giving up our excesses to them, so they too can enjoy together with us. Being rich is fine, brothers and sisters, but just make sure that we keep our less fortunate brethren in mind! God bless. Amen.