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Friday, 23 September 2022 08:44

Fortunes reversed

Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. At his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked the sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them.”

“Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.’ (Luke 16:19-31)

Reflection - Fortunes reversed

The story Jesus tells in the Gospel is about a rich man, his five brothers and a poor man, and how their fortunes get reversed.

The rich man does nothing particularly evil. He lives like a rich man, dresses like a rich man and dines like a rich man. But he does not see the poor man sitting at his door. He does not even notice him.

The story is told against the background belief that riches were a sign of God’s blessing. By the time of Jesus, the teaching of the prophets that blessing brings responsibility seems to have been forgotten.

So the story asks the hearers: will they follow the example of the rich man or heed Jesus’ teaching (and that of the prophets) about the care of the needy and prove themselves true children of Abraham and take their place at the eternal banquet?
Injustice and greed breed violence and often result in the exploitation of the poor. As Pope Paul VI once said, “If you want peace, work for justice”.

We are not called to hoard God’s blessings, but to be distributors of them so that all have a fair share of this world’s goods and can live with dignity and respect.

Download to read or print our Celebrating At Home prayers, reading and reflection for this Sunday:

pdf Celebrating At Home 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time [PDF] (3.86 MB)                                
default Celebrating At Home 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time [ePub] (5.05 MB)



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