Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

                                    " Can nothing bring condemnation?"

Let us imagine this scene. A man dies and arrives before the judgment Seat of God. The divine judge goes through the book of Life and does not find the man's name. So He announces to the man that his place is in hell. The man protests, " But what did I do? I did nothing!" " precisely, " replies God, "  that is why you are going to hell." That man could as well be the rich man in today's parable.

We need to have a deep reflection on this scene, and moreover, we have to ask ourselves this question that why the rich man had to go to hell. We are not told in the parable that he acquired wealth by illegal means. We are not told he was responsible for the poverty and misery of Lazarus. In fact we are not even told that Lazarus begged from him and refused to help. We don't even have any clue purporting him to have committed any crime or evil deed. All we are told is that he was feeding and clothing well as any other successful human being has a right to do. Why then did he go to hell?

The problem we have here, is to pinpoint the reason why the rich man went to hell has a lot to do with what we think sin is. Many times we think that we sin only by thought, word and deed. However we tend to forget a fourth and very important way through which we sin, namely, by omission. In the " I confess" we say these words: " I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do." yet how readily we forget the sin of omission. The aim of today's parable is to remind us that the sin of omission can land someone in hell. Exactly this is what happened to the rich man.

The poor man of God namely Lazarus was lying at his gate. And the rich man simply couldn't  care less. " Whatever happens to him there outside the gate is none of my business," he probably said to himself. " I mind my business. People should mind theirs." Next, the rich man probably phoned the police to report that a stranger was loitering  outside his gate. In the mean time dogs went and licked Lazarus' wounds. And the poor man died. And the city came and picked his body and buried it in unmarked grave.  And the rich man went in and had another cup of coffee. Of course he did nothing against Lazarus. But he has failed to do a good deed. He failed to reach out and share a little of his blessings with someone in need. His sin is that of omission,(not doing what is supposed to do) and for that he was going to roast in hell.

Another thing we have to bear in our minds is that why Lazarus went to heaven. After all we don't hear much in the gospel about his life's details like being a man of God or that he did single good deed. Nevertheless, in biblical stories of this nature, names are very significant because they often convey the person's basic character or personality. In fact this is the only parable of Jesus where the character in the story has a name. Thus the name must be significant for interpreting the parable.

The name " Lazarus" is the Hellenised form of the Hebrew name " Eleazer" which means "God is my help" Lazarus, therefore, is not just a poor man, but a poor man who believes and trusts in God. This must be why he found himself in Abraham's  bosom in paradise-because of his faith and trust in God, not just because he was poor. Failing to grasp the significance of Lazarus' name in the interpretation of the parable, some people have suggested that in the next life there will be automatic reversal of status; the rich will become poor and the poor will become rich. However, this is not the point of the parable. Rich people who use their wealth to serve God in their fellow human beings will still be blessed in the next life. Poor people who spend their lives in bitterness and envy, refusing to believe and trust in God as Lazarus did may yet again suffer in the next life.

The sin of the rich man could be our sin too if we will not lift a finger to help all the Lazarus around us. Sometimes we become blind or amnesia when one personal interest reigns. We will help not only those who are materially poor but also those who are spiritually poor. As Mother Theresia said: "They don't have food but love... they are homeless not because they don't have homes but because they are rejected."

Let us end our sharing with these words from the song entitled Heal The World: " Heal the World and make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race. There are people dying. If we care enough for their living, make a better place for you and for me."

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Chapisha Maoni