Today’s Mass Reading Thursday, March 21, 2019
Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
R: Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.
19 Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. 20 And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. 22 When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ 25Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. 26 Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ 27 He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”
think: Jesus entrusted the poor in our care. What have we done for them? What do we still need to do to uplift them?
The story of Lazarus and the rich man has more than what ordinarily it is understood to mean. At the risk of distorting the original moral lesson of the parable, I would like to focus on a different angle to the story. I start from a more human plane, that is, from the psychological point of view.
The unnamed rich man, by his own admission, had five brothers. He may have lived a comfortable life, dressed nicely, and dined sumptuously, but he sure showed some brotherly concern. He worried about his brothers and tried to work out some arrangement with Abraham to forewarn his brothers so that they could avoid his sad fate. Now, that sounds virtuous enough. Or does it?
It is easy to be good when there is no other option left, when one is pushed against the wall, and there is no other choice but to make a virtue out of necessity. The rich man sure lived a life marked with little concern for others. He did not care for Lazarus—all covered with sores—while he lived life to the hilt as far as comfort is concerned.
I once had an acquaintance who traveled from the Philippines via United States to Europe. Back in the day, the baggage allowance in the new world was more than what was allowed in the old world. He bought lots of American chocolates on his way back home via Rome. He had to pay a hefty sum on account of his overweight baggage. It was time to be generous. It was the perfect time to give away chocolates to everyone he met. His generosity was a virtue borne of necessity. He needed to unload stuff so as to avoid being penalized some more for excess baggage.
The rich man had all the chances to listen and learn. He had a whole lifetime of comfort to at least worry about his brothers’ needs. But no. It was a case of too little, too late.
The Lord is generous with me and you reading this right now. We still have time to listen and learn authentic virtue. Now, not later. Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB
——- REFLECTION QUESTION ——-
What do you keep postponing in your spiritual life? Do it now, not later.
Keep me focused on doing now, not later, what’s necessary for me to inherit Your Kingdom, Lord. Amen.