gospel reflection

Dives and Lazarus

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel once said:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.

The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.

And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

Indifferentism is like a disease, which paralyzes and blinds us from loving God and our neighbors wholeheartedly. Today’s Gospel of Luke (Lk 16:19-31) describes that the rich man feasts magnificently every day, while Lazarus was covered with sores, and longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. In the end, both the rich man and Lazarus died, however, their destiny was reversed, the rich man suffered in torment in Hades, and Lazarus was embraced in the bosom of Abraham for eternity.

In the eyes of the world, the rich man was a very successful person, and he did not do any bad thing to Lazarus.   However, he was condemned not for what he had done, but for what he had neglected to do. He was indifferent to the suffering of Lazarus who had lived nearby him at his gate.

The Gospel today reminds us that whenever we approach the throne of God and ask for his mercy, we can ask for forgiveness for the wrong that we have done as well as the good that we have neglected or have no time to attend to. Moreover, some biblical experts say that the rich man does not have a name so it can be anyone of us.

Therefore, the Gospel of Luke generally indicates that God in Christ is always in favor of the poor. God is their refuge, strength, and justice. For this reason, Catholic social teaching is about defending the rights of the poor, the voiceless, the outcast, the unwanted people, and the refugees. As Jesus himself teaches us; ‘whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me …,’ and whatever we neglect to do for one of the least of our brothers and sisters, we also neglect to do it for Christ himself (Mt 25:35-40).

Fr. Tien Cao

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