September 25, 2022 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092522.cfm)
How serious do you think is the economic inequality in the world today? According to Oxfam International’s findings, the economic inequality has cut the income of 99% of the global population and this pushed for over 160 million people in the world into poverty. In fact, according also to World Inequality Report 2022, the poorest half population in the world only owns 2% of the world’s wealth. However, the richest people who comprised 10% in the population possess the 76% of the world’s wealth. This inequality has deepened in the midst of this pandemic in which those who are in the poverty line have suffered the most. As a result, it contributed to the 21,000 people dying everyday or equivalent to one person dying in every four seconds who suffered because of severe hunger or lack of access to life-saving healthcare.
There is so much wealth in the world, yet, the suffering of many seemed to be endless as well. The economic and wealth inequality in the world has indeed widened the gap between the rich and the poor to the point that a culture of indifference and lack of concern has crept in the hearts of many. This is something that Pope Francis has already pointed out and wants us to be more aware.
Being reminded of this global situation, our readings on this 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time shed light and challenge to us Christians today. So, allow me to journey with you together with our youth sharer and let us discover how God reminds us and calls us.
Thus, in the first reading, Prophet Amos denounced such culture of indifference and the gap made by those in power and the rich. The Prophet’s voice echoed, “Woe to the COMPLACENT in Zion!”
The complacency of the rich and the privilege in their society turned them to become INDIFFERENT AND BLIND to the suffering of the people. They were unaware of the suffering of many. Yet, if they have seen the pain of the people but they refused to reach out, refused to help though they can, refused to be in solidarity with the suffering for fear of discomfort.
Complacency is an attitude that settles to what is only comfortable for the self. Hence, a complacent person is a self-satisfied person who does not what to be disturbed or to go out of the comfort zone. That is why, a curse was given to the complacent and indifferent. They will be the first to go into exile when Assyria will strike Israel and destroy their Temple, which indeed happened.
Meanwhile, our Psalm this Sunday sings to us God’s very character. The Lord secures justice for the oppressed, food to the hungry, sets captives free, gives sight to the blind and raises up those who were bowed down. This image of God tells us that God is not blind and not indifferent to the suffering of the people and the pain inflicted to the weak and powerless.
Certainly, Prophet Amos’ words and the Psalm’s message echo in the Gospel today which we find in the story of Mr. Rich Man and the suffering Lazarus.
While Mr. Rich Man enjoyed his daily lavish meal and luxurious way of life, there at his door was a poor man covered with sores and was surviving through the scraps that fell from the Mr. Rich Man’s table.
However, there was a turn of events when both of them died. Mr. Rich Man, who pretended not to see the poor situation of Lazarus ended in hell while Lazarus was carried by the angels.
With this, the Gospel reminds us that success and security in life are not about what we have accumulated or about the material possession that we have amassed. We are only truly successful and secured when we have built lasting and true relationships with people around us and with God, when we have learned to bridge the gap between one another and begin to see each other as brothers and sisters. Only then, that we shall break our sin of indifference, of our lack of concern for others, of our complacency.
Thus, let us remember that the sin of Mr. Rich Man was not actually of being rich, but of being complacent and indifferent to the suffering of people around him and especially of his neighbor, Lazarus. He could have done something for Lazarus, but chose not to. He was blinded by his own possessions and the luxury he enjoyed. He did not care to offer any help to the poor man. The rich man had no relationship whatsoever with Lazarus. He was only concerned of himself, of his comfort, of his benefits, a sign that he was truly being possessed by his possessions. He hoped and trusted only his wealth and himself.
This was how Mr. Rich Man had grown ungrateful to God for the gifts he received in his lifetime. He was ungrateful because he felt entitled that only him should enjoy the richness in his life. He did not open his eyes and hands to give others a chance to live a better life through his help. Thus, Mr. Rich Man had certainly grown to become an entitled-privileged that even though he was already in the netherworld but then he had still the nerve to make Lazarus serve him. What a self-serving man, indeed!
With all of these, there are three invitations for us in order to break that culture of indifference and bridge the gap between each of us which Pope Francis also calls us to do.
First, to be in the service of others rather than to dominate others. The Lord calls us to show our concern and kindness especially to people who are most in need. Our material resources or even our talents and strengths can be best expressed at the service of others.
Second, to look at others rather than looking out only for one’s own interest. The Lord reminds us not to become indifferent and unconcerned with the realities of suffering around us and not to think only for ourselves and our own good alone. As a community, we are called to take care of each other.
Third, to have a renewed awareness of the dignity of every human being. We are created in the image of God. We may also see and recognize always that each one is God’s image. Only then, that we are also able to acknowledge that we are all sisters and brothers and not treat each other with contempt and hostility because of our differences but in compassion and respect that allow life to nourish as God desires it. Kabay pa.