Amos 6:1a, 4-7; 1 Tim. 6:11-16; LK 16:19-31.
Today's First Reading from the Book of Amos is the last of three woes that the Lord God promised to inflict upon Judah and Israel because of their evil deeds. These nations had rulers who were idle, insensitive to the need of the poor and lived in luxury. Accordingly, God said that they would be taken into exile.
History tells us that the rulers slept on extravagant beds that were inlaid with ivory panels. They ate the costliest food, including calves that had been raised on milk alone, this making the meat very tender. During meals, they listened to idle songs to the sound of the harp. In this environment of indolence (avoiding work), never mind drinking wine out of cup, they drank it out of bowls. Over and above all this, they anointed themselves with the finest oils. While enjoying themselves they were totally insensitive to the needs of the poor and common men around them. The punishment that they had to face was exile.
The Gospel Reading has a similarity. Again we heard of luxury and insensitivity. The rich man lived like a king and was totally insensitive to the needs of Lazarus. While the rich man may have been blessed with great luxury, he was only successful for a time. When he died, he could not take his luxury with him in the afterlife. None of his luxury could defend him against the judgment that awaited him. The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to his father's house to warn his five brothers of the plight that awaited them if they continued to live as the rich man did. Abraham answered that his brothers had Moses and the prophets. In other words, they had the laws and the words of the prophets.
Equally today, we have the Words of Jesus and the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church that are continuously related to us through the ministers of the Word of God. As the rich man had plenty of opportunities to hear the truth, today, God's creations, within and without the Church, have all the necessary opportunities to hear the truth.
The problem of the rich man was that he was insensitive to the needs of his fellow men. Insensitivity is infectious, a disease that is spreading fast not just in wider society but also much closer to home. All sadly traits of a modern day society when we find ourselves consumed by social media, our own personal egos, selfishness and lack of willingness to stand up and do the right thing.
But there are also people who proved that their little actions can impact the world.
After needing 13 litres of blood for a surgery at the age of 13, a man names James Harrison pledged to donate blood once he turned 18. It was discovered that his blood contained a rare antigen which cured Rhesus disease. He has donated blood a record 1000 times and saved 2000000 lives.
For the past ten years, Luis Soriano, a teacher in the small town of La Gloria, Colombia, has created a mobile library with the help of is donkeys. He then travels through the fields to the villages beyond where children n await his visits impatiently. He firmly believes that bringing books to people who don't have access to them can improve the country and open up possibilities for the future generation.
Cathy O'Grady has always been a person whose life mission was to bring a smile to the faces of complete strangers. But after her mother passed away 15 years ago from breast cancer, she felt the need to embody her mother's legacy of unbridled generosity and took her random acts of kindness to the next level. From donating $50 gift cards to Boston families who couldn't afford a Thanksgiving dinner to leaving blankets, hats and scarves on park benches for the homeless, O'Grady devotes every second of her spare time outside of her accounting job and online jewellery business to giving back because it helps others and makes her feel good.
The message of today's readings is that God has blessed us abundantly in many ways. While enjoying these blessings, we should not be insensitive to the needs of less fortunate. Our little acts of kindness can bring smiles to the life of many. And they will be our advocates to plead for us. When the rich man reached his destiny Lazarus was there but there was nothing for Lazarus to plead for him. Let us try to do whatever little is possible for us to alleviate the sufferings of people around us. Not a single act will go waste. Everything will be account for in our favour.