Cycle [C] 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Amos 6:1a, 4-7; 1 Tim. 6:11-16; Lk. 16:19-31

Today's message from the first and last readings is that the rich were self-centered, enjoying a life of luxury and insensitivity while the poor suffered around them. The First Reading from the Book of Amos is the last of three afflictions 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 most costly food. 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.

Because of such unacceptable behaviour, the rulers were going to be captured and taken into exile. Their days of enjoyment were coming to an end.

The Gospel Reading gives a similar message. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The parable speaks of luxury and insensitivity. The rich man lived like a king and was totally insensitive to the needs of Lazarus. The rich man was blessed with luxury. But, 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. In fact, his luxury condemned him.

The condition of the poor man was miserable. He had sores that the dogs would come and lick. Obviously the poor man could not afford medication and the rich man refused to acknowledge his presence and his needs. And when they died, the poor man was taken to Heaven by angels and the rich man was sent to Hades where he was tormented. What followed was the rich man's request to Abraham, that Lazarus be sent to him so he could dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue, because he was in agony from the flames.

Abraham answered, "Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony." 

Jesus told this parable to those among the Pharisees who loved money. 

There is a story told by a rabbi. One day a certain old, rich man of a miserable disposition visited a rabbi. The Rabbi led him to a window. “Look out there into the street. What do you see?” asked the rabbi. “I see men, women, and children,” answered the rich man. Again the rabbi led him to a mirror. He asked, “Now what do you see?” The man replied, “Now I can only see myself,”.

Then the rabbi said, “Look, in the window there is glass, and in the mirror there is glass. But the glass of the mirror is covered with a little silver, and no sooner is the silver added than you cease to see others, and you see only yourself.”

That is the problem with most of us. When we begin to love money and wealth and life’s luxuries, we become insensitive to the needs of others. This parable is a warning to care about the poor as much as we care about our comfort.

The parable speaks to us as how God’s people are expected to care for the poor and the lost, because God loves the poor and the lost, and we are God’s hands and feet in this world. God expects his children to love those whom God loves and use our God given resources to help them

Dr Ian Person lists 3 methods a person might be able to live forever: Firstly, A person can live forever by renewing the body parts. Genetic engineering can slow down the aging process or just exchange old body parts with new body parts. Secondly, a person can live forever Living in Android bodies. “we'll be able to link our minds to the machine world and we'll effectively be living in the cloud.” Thirdly, we can live forever by Living in a virtual world. 

But there is a different way to live forever. In 539 B.C., the armies of Cyrus the Great conquered the city of Babylon. But rather than enslaving them, Cyrus freed them, declared freedom of religion and established racial equality. These and other decrees were recorded in cuneiform on a baked-clay cylinder now known as the Cyrus Cylinder. It is generally considered the world’s first charter of human rights. Cyrus has conquered the minds of many.  Gandhiji lives in the heart of many people. Socrates is remembered even after thousands of years. Mother Theresa has conquered the heart of millions. They were able to achieve this immortality only by being sensitive to the needs of others and showing compassion to the fellow beings.

The rich man’s failure to help Lazarus, a fellow Israelite, revealed that he had a wicked heart, a non-repentant heart. By refusing to provide for the poor beggar sitting at his gate, the rich man was rebelling against God who, through Moses, had given Israel specific instructions on how those with resources were to treat their poor fellow countrymen. They were to open their hands wide in providing for the poor and needy in their land. But many of the Israelites ignored all these teachings. We do the same today.

The parable also portrays human desire for the spectacular, the dramatic, the shocking miracles to occur Many feel that if they could only see a miracle, or be spoken to by an angel, then they would believe. But we know that many people saw the miracles but never believed Jesus. When Jesus turned water into wine; when Jesus raised Lazurus, When Jesus cured people, when Jesus rose from the dead people only wondered but never chose to believe him.

The parable makes it clear that even a supernatural manifestation from the dead will not bring about any change in our attitude. 

The lesson Jesus gives is to understand the needs of others and be sensitive to the needs of others.