The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe XXVI-C, 29 September 2019
Amos 6:1.4-7 ><)))*> 1 Timothy 6:11-16 . ><)))*> Luke 16:19-31
Last Sunday we focused on our hands that we use to pray and serve in reflecting the parable of the wise steward. Today, let us “look” into our eyes that see God in others as we reflect on another parable only St. Luke has, the rich man and Lazarus.
Eyes are the “windows of one’s soul”.
Eyes reveal what is inside us: how we look and move our eyes, the sparkle or dullness in our eyes indicate the kind of person within. Eyes never lie for they reveal if we are telling the truth or not. Most of all, eyes do not only direct us to sights outside but even visions to beyond what we can see.
This is very clear in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, inviting us to take a deeper look into ourselves, on others, and with the things we possess like money and wealth.
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.”Luke 16:19-23
For the third consecutive Sunday, we again heard another well-known parable proper to St. Luke like the prodigal son two weeks ago and the wise steward last Sunday. Today’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus follows the same thread of last week’s wise steward which is about the thorny issue of money. But again, there is something deeper than that which is the call for daily conversion by always looking beyond what we can see.
In this parable, Jesus never said the rich man was bad that is why he went to hell or the “netherworld”. Neither did he also claim that the poor man was holy that led him into the “bosom of Abraham” which is heaven. Jesus only described their daily life: the rich man lived in affluence with fine clothings and sumptuous meals while the poor was very destitute feeding on scraps falling from the former’s table as dogs licked the sores that covered his body.
The only critical clues Jesus gives us are the name of the poor man – Lazarus – which means “God has rescued” or El’azar in Hebrew and the final scene in the afterlife.
Let it be clear that the issue here is how people, rich and poor alike, can be blinded by money and wealth that they fail or even refuse to see God and others as brothers and sisters that lead them into evil and sins.
Abraham replied (to the rich man), “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. 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.”Luke16:25-26
The sad reality is that this parable continues to happen in our days when so many of us are oblivious of the poverty and miseries afflicting many of the poor among us.
We are that rich man who has no name but have eyes that refuse to see and recognize Jesus in everyone especially the poor and suffering. How tragic in this age of social media where everything and everyone is exposed and seen, we have become blind to the plight of those around us. No need to look far but right in our own family when members are on their own without bothering to know how everyone is doing in life.
In my 21 years of priesthood, I have realized that most often, the people who truly suffer are often the Lazarus among us who prefer to be silent, to bear all their pains trusting only in God who would vindicate and raise them in the end. The Lazarus are the poor not just in material wealth but “poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:3) who completely trust in God.
Reading further that version of the Beatitudes of St. Matthew, we find Jesus saying
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.Matthew 5:8
The clean of heart are the Lazarus, the poor who try to find God in this life even amid the many sufferings. Our minds and intellect, including our eyes can never see God. As the Little Prince would say, “what is essential is invisible to the eye; it is only with the heart that one can truly see”. Very true!
A clean heart is a loving heart. When we speak of the heart, we also mean person for the heart embodies the whole person. Therefore, a loving heart is the Lazarus, the one who tries to see God, the one who envisions the end that he is willing to sacrifice, to forgive and to welcome the lost.
Lazarus the poor beggar went to heaven because he has a clean heart unlike the rich man who refused to see beyond himself and his affluence. They are the ones being reprimanded in the first reading by the Prophet Amos, the “complacent” people who may have also included the priestly class of Israel unmindful of the real situation of the people because they have been insulated from realities by the perks and good life of wealth and power (Amos 6:1).
Most people have eyes that have sights but only a few have a vision in life. People with a vision in life are the ones who can see beyond the ordinary, they are the dreamers who dream with eyes wide open working hard to make their dreams happen in reality.
Lazarus is a visionary and a dreamer who saw beyond the door of the rich man, beyond his hunger and sickness the glory of God in eternal life. The rich man on the other hand only had sights for what is “here and now”; and, that is what he is so afraid of with his five brothers still alive who have no vision of the afterlife, no vision of God among others in the present life like him.
My dear friends, Jesus is inviting us today while there is still time to go back to the path of conversion, to see beyond ordinary things and see the more essential, the more lasting things that according to St. Paul in the second reading prepare us for eternal life like “righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness” (1Tim. 6:11).
Let us listen to the words of God found in the Sacred Scriptures that Abraham referred to in the parable as “Moses and the prophets” (Lk.16:29).
Most of all, let us listen to Jesus Christ, the only one who had risen from the dead (cf. Lk. 16:31) who enables us to see him on the face of everyone we meet, giving us a vision of heaven by helping us in fulfilling our mission as his disciples in proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God. Amen.