Jesus Our Shepherd
Luke 16:19-31
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. Lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 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. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.

The rich man also died and was buried. From the netherworld where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. He cried out, “Father Abraham, have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, for I am suffering terribly in these flames.”

Abraham replied, “My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus received what was bad. Now he is comforted here while you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from your side to ours.” He said, “Then, I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Warn them lest they too come to this place of torment.”

Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets to warn them. Let them listen well to them.” But he said, “Oh no, father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” Then Abraham concluded, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead!”

Homily for 19 September 2004
Fr. Bob Scanlan

There is a television show entitled the “Lifestyles of the rich and famous”. I do not watch much television but at times when bored I have surfed the channels and seen parts of it. There are mansions, many exotic cars, butlers and maids; yachts and mountain homes used only for skiing. The first reading from the prophet Amos was from his collection of prophetic writings from about 750 B.C. Archeological excavations have authenticated the lifestyle of some of the rich and famous of that time: inlayed ivory and mother of pearl was common. Amos points out the contrast between this life style and the poor or the “anawim” as scripture refers to the poor. The rich feasted on the young lambs and milk-fed calves that were confined to their stalls to retain the tenderness of their meat. The poor ate vegetables and bread. Their total disregard for the poor will be rewarded by they being the first to go into exile.

The Gospel of Luke today relates the story of the rich young man and Lazarus (not to be confused with the Lazarus of Bethany who was raised from the dead). Luke like the prophet Amos clearly draws the distinction between the wealthy and the poor. Jesus does not condemn the rich man nor does he condemn wealth. I think many of us have our “road map” to heaven laid out. We have our job, our savings, perhaps some stocks and bonds, a retirement plan in place. However in our plan is there listed any place how we will spend our time and treasure serving those who fit the description of Lazarus in our community. Will we find, when we pass over to the other side, that we have not arrived at the place we had intended to go? Will there be a roll reversal and we will find ourselves “reaching out” to Lazarus seeking “one more chance”? Will we be asking to “go back and warn others” to change their priorities?

Where is Lazarus today? Lazarus is at the gate. He is the recent high school graduate who is homeless because his parents sent him away when he admitted to being a homosexual.

Lazarus is at the gate. He is the illegal immigrant who paid $2,000 to be crammed into a windowless, airless truck to come to our country so he can send money from his job (less than minimum wage) to his family in Mexico.

Lazarus is at the gate. She is one of the 40 million Americans who have no access to basic health care. She must choose between medications for health or food and rent.

Lazarus is at the gate. He is out of work due to his job being downsized, and the remainder of skilled work sent out of the country so the company does not have to pay taxes or just wages.

Lazarus is at the gate. She is the elderly parent whose adult children can not be bothered to visit her as they are living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. They come for one hour on Christmas Day and feel they have done their part.

Lazarus is at the gate. He is the neighbor who lives next door who lost his spouse and is extremely lonely. He always seems to be outside when you get home from work but you are too pre-occupied with your issues to even notice him or have him over for dinner.

Lazarus is at the gate. He/She is your neighbor, your fellow employee; yes even your family member; your spouse, son, daughter and parent. Lazarus is all around us today. Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear?

Many of us are rich in many ways. Some have financial security others the gifts of caring and sharing, while still others personal gifts unique to you alone. Being able to live a comfortable life is not a bad thing. Not sharing what we have been given be it financial, material, or simply our compassion and understanding is a bad thing.

When I die and am called home, will Lazarus, whom I know today, be there to greet me along with Jesus and say, well done good and faithful servant, come and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world? I can only pray that will be the case. Will Lazarus be there to greet you?