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Liturgical day: Sunday 26th (C) in Ordinary Time

Gospel text (Lc 16,19-31): Jesus said to the Pharisees, «Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man's table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.

»It happened that the poor man died and angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. From hell where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out: ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus with the tip of his finger dipped in water to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire’. Abraham replied: ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you or from your side to us’.

»The rich man implored once more: ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father's house where my five brothers live. Let him warn them so that they may not end up in this place of torment’. Abraham replied: ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them’. But the rich man said: ‘No, Father Abraham. But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent’. Abraham said: ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the grave’».

«Now he is in comfort and you are in agony»

Fr. Valentí ALONSO i Roig
(Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Jesus confronts us with the social iniquity direct consequence of the growing inequality between rich and poor. As if belonging to one of these awful scenes we are used to watch on TV, the Lazarus' yarn hits us, and achieves the sensationalist effect to prompt our emotions: «Even dogs used to come and lick his sores» (Lk 16:21). The difference is obvious: the rich man was dressing in purple and fine linen clothes, while the sores covering him were the poor man's only dress.

But the situation is balanced when both die. And, it is now when the difference is reversed: one takes his place with Abraham; while the other, is simple inhumed. If we had never heard this story before and we would like to apply the values of our present society, we might reason out that who reached into Heaven was the rich man and the poor one, logically, buried in the sepulchre.

Abraham, the Father of the Faith, pronounces the sentence spelling the final outcome: «My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well off while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort and you are in agony» (Lk 16:25). God's justice changes the situation altogether. God does not allow the poor man to remain forever in anguish, hunger and misery.

This message has moved millions of rich men's hearts and have converted large crowds through history; but, what kind of message will be needed in our over-developed, hyper-communicated, globalized world to make us realize all the social injustices which we are directly responsible of, or, if nothing else, which we tolerate as accomplices? Whoever heard Jesus' message desired to rest by Abraham's side, but how many, amongst us here, will have enough by being buried when dead, without wanting to receive the consolation of our Father in Heaven? The true wealth is getting to see God, and what we need, as St. Augustine asserted, is: «Walk with the man and you will reach God». That the Lazarus of everyday help us finding God.