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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Sparkles of Light (Lk 16:19-31)

8 March 2012, Thursday of 2nd Week of Lent


Jesus said to the Pharisees: "There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.  And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.' Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.' He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"
Luke 16:19-31

            In the Gospel for today, we can see the story of about the rich man and Lazarus.  There is the great divide between rich and poor which is clearly illustrated in the gospel. The rich man feasted lavishly every day. On his gate lays a poor man named Lazarus who was full with sores, who was content on eating whatever crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.  After a period of time both the rich man and Lazarus died and ironically there was a reversal of fortunes. Lazarus was carried by angels to be with Abraham while the rich man went to the netherworld.  Jesus told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to a group of money-loving religious leaders who believed that they too could be close to God while ignoring the poor at the gate. In fact, they most probably believed that their wealth was a sign of God’s favor, while poverty was a sign of God’s curse. 

            The story about the rich man and Lazarus sounds very familiar to us isn’t it?  Perhaps we have seen this same scenario in our parish Church where the beggars are waiting outside for us the parishioners to come out after mass; or some poor kids knocking on our car doors at the stop light; or a woman carrying a child at a nearby mall patiently waiting for the sound of coins falling inside an empty can.  There are many poor people everywhere.   The poor are still at our gates.  Though the Gospel sounds like a direct warning for those who are rich and who doesn’t know how to share their wealth, Jesus invites us to take our part in helping the poor.  Being rich is not bad.  Many rich people earn their living in an honesty and hard work.  It becomes our failing when we are so enamoured with our money that it becomes our master!  We must learn to share our blessings to others.

            However, the problem of poverty in our country is so complicated and complex.  It takes good services and programs from both the government and civil society. But despite of this, Jesus’ message is clear.  We must do our share.  As Jesus ministered among the poor, and so should we.  And this is not always easy. Working with the poor can be a threatening experience.  Sometimes, the poor are not easy to deal with.  But somehow, in the power of God’s Spirit, it is possible to overcome our fears.  There are many ways of helping the poor and not only through “dole-outs.”  We empower them in our unique way so that they may have hope and learn to stand on their own.

During this Lenten season, we are encouraged to do prayers, fasting, penance, and to give alms to the poor.  The poor is always part of our Christian life.  Jesus himself always ministered to the poor and sick.  May we always learn to give and make sacrifices for the sake of our poor brothers and sisters.  As the Beatitudes say, “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  It is through giving our hearts to the poor that we may enter truly the “gate” of Kingdom of God.

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