1st Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10: A curse on the man who puts his trust in man and turns from the Lord.
Resp. Psalm 1: 1-4,6: Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31: Dives and Lazarus.
Then Abraham said to him;
If they will not listen either to Moses or the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead. Luke 16:31.
In a world full of uncertainty, there is a high degree of doubt and despair and in order find lasting solutions to the puzzles of life, we do not place our trust in God- who is the source of our lives and the goal of every enquiry. We sometimes rely and trust in a winning formula, like a joint coalition, board of trustees or national alliance. By and large, “these” too fail and we return back to faithfulness band hopelessness. Nothing then we can trust and as such life becomes dimmer and darker. As the centuries passed on, Israel’s idolatry worsened and they spurned their gracious God and despised His precious promises. They turned their hearts away from the Lord.. preferring to trust in their own wisdom and strength, while they chased after the false gods of the surrounding nations, and trusted in the hollow alliances of pagan kings – rather than depending on the Lord their God.
Jeremiah was one of God’s holy prophets who was called to warn them of the serious consequences of their gross idolatry, and continuing unbelief. He gave a stark warning to the people of Israel. Cursed is the man who relies on his own strength, rather that the power of the Lord, he continued. Cursed is the man whose heart turns away from the Lord, his God, was the pleading cry from this grieving prophet, who knew that terrible disaster would fall upon the nation, who turned away from the Lord their God. Jeremiah 17:5 When man falls into the hands of an angry God, it is a terrible thing.. but when it is the people of God, who choose to make alliances with pagan nations, instead of trusting in the God of their salvation, Who bought them with His precious blood – it is indeed, a shocking indictment. It is easy to look with distain on the apostasy of Israel, as described by Jeremiah.. or to criticise those in Christendom who stray from the path of righteousness. But should we not first examine our own Christian walk, and consider where we have placed our trust.. and on whom we have anchored our hope.
Do we trust in the works of man or place our faith in the strength of fleshly achievements? Do we put our confidence in our bank balance, our negotiating skills or our government’s provision? Do we place our hope in our personal abilities, the achievements of man, the works of the flesh or ungodly alliances? or, do we trust in the Lord our God with all our heart and place our hope in His unfailing love and promised provision?
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. What was the purpose of the parable? It was to teach the religious leaders, the crowd and all of us that after death we cannot change our destiny. We are either sentenced to eternal life or eternal punishment. The parable teaches that money does not help a person go to heaven. In fact, Jesus pointedly said, Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. Luke 16:25
As we can see the Chasm between the rich and the poor exists still today. Poor homeless people are ignored by the wealthy. It seems that when one cares about their wealth too much, they have no compassion for the needy, one becomes too concerned about himself and the things he has acquired. We don’t have to be extremely rich to not care for the poor. Just being in the state of living comfortably can create a great chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots”.
However, being rich or comfortable doesn’t mean that we are sinners, but it’s what we do with our wealth that can make us sinners. Do we help those in need, or do we ignore them like “Dives” did to Lazarus? What do you do when you see a homeless person on the street? Do you ignore them? Sometimes, I do. It’s not always easy to approach people that are experiencing homelessness.
Many things go through our mind why we shouldn’t acknowledge the poor on the streets. Things like I don’t have the time to really help this person; I don’t have the money or resources to help this person; or that person probably makes more money a year begging for money; they don’t need my help; or that person is just lazy; they need to get a job; I’m not going to help them until they help themselves; (na OYO you Dey o, -On Your Own) it looks like that person doesn’t want to be bothered. The chasm presents these reasons to us, so we don’t acknowledge the poor among us. The chasm itself prevents us from interacting with our poor sisters and brothers on the streets.
You must ask yourself why do you believe you are going to heaven? Most people think they are going to heaven because they are a good person. Few believe they are going to hell. It is obvious that the rich man thought he was going to heaven too! It is obvious that his five brothers thought they were going to heaven also, or the rich man would not have wanted Lazarus to warn them. Salvation is only found in Christ by believing in Him. True faith and trust in Christ includes admission that we are sinners, repentance from our sins, believing Christ died on the cross in order to forgive our sins and returned to life and then to submit to Him. So, where are you going to spend your eternity?
Wishing you a grace-filled day!
Joe Osho OSJ