Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Gospel Challenge

In today’s Gospel, Luke 16: 19-31, the evangelist presents the story of Dives and Lazarus. Dives,  a rich man,  ignores the needs of Lazarus, a poor, very ill man who sat outside the gates leading to the rich man’s property.  Dives  is deaf to the cries of the poor and blind to their needs, using all of his wealth for himself and his family. Both men die! Dives, by his sins against the poor, has shut the door to enjoying God’s presence in eternity and ends up in eternal torment, while Lazarus enjoys eternal bliss at Abraham’s side.  Dives begs Abraham: “’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…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.’”

Who am I in this story? Dives or Lazarus? Am I rich financially and using those riches only for myself or am I financially strapped, not knowing how I will provide for my family’s needs for food, shelter, medical care, education, clothing and thus dependent upon those who are better off to be generous in sharing of their riches? Also, am I rich or poor spiritually, socially, and intellectually? With which talents has the Lord blessed me?  Do I share my riches—my joy, my faith, my hope, my love, my caring, my compassion, my  upbeat personality? Do share my talents—whatever I am good at because of professional training or natural talent? Do I share my giftedness—and we are all gifted--with others, or hoard my gifts and blessings for personal use only, for my own comfort here on earth,  ignoring the needs of others, not caring that their rights are being violated by me or anyone else?

Furthermore, I might ask myself:  Am I building  “a kingdom” for myself here on earth and for
me alone?” Or am I concerned that everyone has what he or she needs to provide for their families and for themselves and that I, when possible, share of my wealth, whatever that might be? In other words,  am I preparing myself to enjoy God’s kingdom in heaven that is reserved for those who are mindful of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized of our societies and who use their gifts to serve others and to make the world around them a better place? Am I a “Dives” or a “Lazarus”?  

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