It is very hard to prepare homilies when one is assigned in a parish where everyone attending the mass are rich. And we all know that we cannot change the readings. But anyway, the readings for today is not actually against being rich. And the lessons are actually for all the followers of Christ. They present to us the two attitudes that are incongruent in Christian life. They are meant to help us realize of our responsibilities as Christians.
This first attitude is COMPLACENCY. We have heard Amos said in the first reading: “Woe to the complacent in Zion, who enjoys a luxurious life but do nothing about the collapse of Joseph.” The complacent in Zion enjoyed their lives and were only concerned with themselves. They didn’t care about anyone else. They were like the rich man of the parable in today’s Gospel. He enjoyed his life, but he was completely detached from the needs of anyone else. He saw Lazarus, at his door, but he did not even consider his situation. He did not feel to be responsible to anyone.
The second attitude which is connected to being complacent is PLAYING BLIND. Lazarus longed to eat the scraps that fell from the Rich Man’s table. But Lazarus wasn’t given these scraps. The rich man ignored seeing Lazarus. He played blind on the reality. As if nobody was there. He has seen Lazarus but he never sees him as human as he is. (Just like us sometimes, we ignore our faults and failures just to show that we are good and fine). He never saw Lazarus as a fellow human being who had a right to be treated with dignity. What he has in life, his richness, his possessions made him blind to those around him. The first time that he acknowledged Lazarus as a person, not as an eyesore, was when he was already in hell. From there he looked up and saw Lazarus.
Perhaps we have been to a street and someone would come asking for food or money. What do we usually do? Some would pretend that you do not see them. Or glance our eyes elsewhere. And most of the times we conclude into judgment that they may be fake, addict, a thief, a lazy person who opted to beg than to work, a professional beggar. The worst thing, we see them as swindlers before seeing “a person” “a brother” “a neighbor” created in the image and likeness of God. Well, I won’t blame you because there are a lot of them, disguised as beggar now a day. But, you know what, based from my experience, the authentic poor never begs. They wait like Lazarus. They wait that God will lead a kind-hearted person to be generous to them.
We are invited today my dear friends, to do what is right. The second reading tells us “to pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which we were called.”
We are invited to be generous and help. But we don’t help others only because this is a good thing to do or because we are told to do so. We don’t help others because we have plenty of extras in our lives. Our generosity is not to get rid of our excess, our surplus. We help others because we are Christians.
We are invited not to be complacent, and not to pretend to be blind of our neighbors.