Gospel Reflection for 26th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C – September 25th 2016
Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames”. “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”
‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too”. “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them.”. “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead”.’
Ever not have enough to eat and you could do nothing about it? Away somewhere and nowhere open. Food you don’t like and you can’t do anything about it. Sick in hospital and the food is awful. But you know that tomorrow or later maybe you will get something better. Millions are only at point 1, and never know if they will get anything more.
The story is about those with plenty and those with little. With people who are ignored by others. About knowing that it is the will of God that nobody be hungry this night, but he depends on his people to feed them.
What can one person do? We did not individually cause the problem of world hunger. And if you don’t throw out the wasted food at dinner, the poor won’t get it. And we know that the world can grow enough food to feed everyone.
Even small gestures remind us of the pain of others. To offer some food to someone hungry, to pay for a burger or a breakfast, to volunteer in food centres. To talk with hungry people and treat them with dignity. This helps us feel their feelings. Without that we can pass by, and the dogs were kinder to Lazarus than many of his own people. We do not need anyone back from the dead to remind us – we have Jesus, and the poor right on our doorsteps. The voice of the poor calling for help here and elsewhere is the cry of Jesus in the world.
Sometime hold a small bowl of rice in your hand, or one slice of bread, and remember that this is all many have to eat for today.
Give to all this day O Lord their daily bread. May we help you do this.
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger