The rich and the poor

The people we normally consider as unfortunate are proclaimed by Jesus Himself as Blessed. Incidentally, the first Beatitude in the gospels concerns the blessedness of the poor!

The Magnificat of Mary found in Luke 1:51 says the proud will be brought low, and the humble will be lifted up; the hungry will be fed, and the rich will be sent away empty. Even in the Old Testament, we can see stories that show God has blessed the poor and lifted them up. That God hears the cry of the poor.

We should be reminded that one very important aspect of Jesus’ mission on earth is to seek and comfort the last, the lost and the least. The centers of Jesus’ ministry are the poor and other marginalized people in society. Jesus was anointed to bring good news to the poor (Luke 4:18). He has often made clear that these “unfortunate” members of today’s society are actually marching ahead of the “fortunate” into the Kingdom of God.

The following are the lessons we can learn from the gospel reading today, namely there are two kinds of sin: The sin of commission and the sin of omission. The rich man was not a criminal, but he failed to do something with moral implication, that is sharing his treasure and treating others with compassion. Regret always comes last. Whatever good we need today, let’s do it now for tomorrow may not come.

There is hope for those people who suffer or are neglected today. God looks at them with merciful eyes. Their suffering is temporary. They will be comforted in heaven for all eternity.

Don’t wait for someone to rise from the dead to testify that indeed there is life after death. Just do good because it is the right thing. Let us not exchange our pleasure today for eternal torment. We don’t bring our wealth or possessions to the next world. Share it now.

So, what lesson can we get from the story of the rich man and Lazarus?

First, life can be reversed. What we are now may not be what we will be in the future or in the next life. In fact, this story tells us that there is indeed life after death. We will all soon pass away and everyone will be judged accordingly.

Second, money by itself has nothing to do with eternal life. We must take note that the gospel reading was directed to the Pharisees and other religious leaders of that time. It was a kind of rebuke to them who are “lovers of money” (Luke 16:14).

Third, there is hope for the poor and Jesus is calling us to share what we have most, especially with them. The gospel passage above is very clear that the rich man’s fault was his lack of compassion for poor Lazarus.

Jesus did not name the rich man in the gospel story, most probably because He is referring to everyone who has something to share, but refuses to do it. The man was enjoying a sumptuous meal, and he knew Lazarus was there, but sharing was not in his vocabulary. On the other hand, there was Lazarus who represents the needy of the world who are happy eating scraps that fall from rich men’s tables.

When our temporary stay on this planet ends, we go to the other world where life does not end. From the story, the rich man went to hell where he was tormented day in and day out, while Lazarus was sent to heaven where he was comforted in the bosom of Abraham. Observe that even in hell, the rich have not changed at all. He wanted Lazarus to serve him without any remorse on his part. On a positive note, he is concerned about his family he left behind. He wanted them to be warned of hell.

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