“Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.”
Lk 16:25 (RSVCE)
By Chris D’Souza
Have you caught yourself saying: ‘Well, I need to earn a bit more to be able to help this cause or this person? Honestly, I have.
When it comes to helping others, we can find so many reasons to procrastinate. Sometimes we even believe our reasons.
But Pope Francis has a beautiful response to our excuses. He says: “The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger –- nothing ever comes out for the poor!”
That is the trap: our hungers become insatiable. There is always a deficit, never a surplus.
In the Gospel story of the rich man and Lazarus, the perspective of indifference to the poor is powerfully illustrated. In our own lives we have many choices before us – we can help them or not help them, ignore them or even treat them badly, maybe.
We can rationalize that their predicament is deserved – just the sum of their own bad decisions. If it’s their fault, why should we forfeit some of our resources to help them?
Ultimately, how do we respond? Which course do we choose?
Jesus gives us the clearest possible response in his parable to the Pharisees. It's there in black and white -- the fate we can expect for not doing the right thing.
So is it the fear of hell that ought to make us move forward to help someone? Or is the opportunity to requite God’s great love and many blessings for us? Do we let the Holy Spirit lead us into recognizing the needs of others and stepping out whenever and wherever we see a situation where we can make a difference – even a small one?
Indifference is not just withholding the sharing of material blessings from others. Mother Teresa reminds us:
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
Can I help someone feel less unloved today?
Much of our so called socio-economic policy and structures are geared in favor of the rich. As they become richer, the gap with the poor is widening. Do we stand up and protest when we see this injustice ... or simply take advantage of it?
Do we resist Lazarus ... or imitate him? And whatever we do, where does that leave us in God’s eyes?
Reflect: What can I share to make someone’s life more blessed today? Does the fact that I am blessed with much motivate me to share with those who do not have the same?
Contact Chris D’Souza from Bangalore at firstname.lastname@example.org