Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
An article was published stating that America is a land of leftovers; about 40% of its food goes to waste, and has an obesity problem. It continues: “Worldwide, the UN estimates that a billion people are currently going hungry.” Furthermore it says: “So we’re eating too much — and throwing out too much food. (And, no,) I suspect the correct answer to this problem is not to eat more and finish whatever’s on our plate. Obviously, Americans’ eyes are often bigger than our stomachs, so we should either be ordering or preparing less food, or perhaps inviting more people over to dinner” (Geoff Williams, November 30, 2009, www.walletpop.com). The statistical figure is an unspeakable scandal to many poorer nations, as many do not eat even one decent meal a day.
The rich man dressed in purple and fine linen and sumptuously feasting each day, and Lazarus lying at his door…. covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table (Lk 16:19-21) give us a picture of the world’s situation today. All that Lazarus wanted was to fill his empty stomach. He did not want to feast with the rich man, neither did he want to get rich. He only wanted to eat the scraps from the rich man’s table, the scraps which the dogs would eat.
It was not particularly wrong that the rich man was eating sumptuously. He was rich, anyway. He had all the reasons to eat all that he wanted. What made his act inappropriate and objectionable was his deliberate disregard for the poor man right at his door. His family probably joined him and also ignored the poor man. They just did not care. The book of Revelation tells us: I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (Rev 3:15-16).
What an insult to the loving God to disregard the poor, for Jesus affectionate proclaims: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied” (Lk 6:20-21). To those who ignore this proclamation, Jesus says: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry” (Lk 6:24-25). God comes to us in various ways, and He wants us to be open to our neighbor, for He stands at the door and knocks. If anyone hears His voice and opens the door, He will enter and dine with him (cf. Rev 3:20).
We tend to be complacent. We want a life undisturbed by odds. So we just avoid sin, and when we sin, we justify ourselves and look for reasons to blame others. However, Christian life is not being content with what currently is. Christian life is growth in holiness. It is following Christ. He is dynamic and is not content with what simply is. He needs disciples who spend much time with Him, give more of themselves and walk another mile (cf Mt 5:41). Jesus Christ lived among us, so that we can live with God. Jesus forgave us, so that we may learn to forgive. He washed the feet of His disciples, so that we may learn to serve. He died for the truth, so that we may learn that we do not belong to this world, but in His Kingdom. Jesus rose from the dead so that we may have life. Thus, our life belongs doubly to God for besides creating us, He redeemed us by His precious blood.
The first reading today tells us that it was peace time for the Israelites; and they thought it would last forever. So the more they indulged in pleasure and revelry. They partied every day, lavished themselves with luxuries, abandoned the needy, and forgot that they had peace because the Lord fought for them. Amos warned them, but they would not listen. Few years later God proved Amos right. The Assyrians subjugated the Israelites and made them exiles in their own land, for the Lord said: “Woe to the complacent in Zion!... they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with (Am 6:1,7).
God has already weighed our minimum help for the poor: the crumbs. The poor do not particularly like to be rich as to dress up lavishly and eat sumptuously. They only want to live decent lives. They make us aware that we should be more conscientious of how we live, be more prudent on how we use our resources, be more careful about handling extra food and money and to be aware of their presence somewhere. We are invited to help institutions that help the poor, the oppressed and the abused. We have Mission collections for needy nations. We have organizations in our parishes that extend help to needy families. Be open to them.
We celebrate the Eucharist in its richness and in the glory of God, despite the littleness of the bread and wine, so that God can enter into our hearts. St. Paul says, I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me (Gal 2:19-20).