Friday, October 18, 2019

God's Staff is with Us , Homily Twenty-Ninth Sunday Year C




Twenty-Ninth Sunday Year C

Persistence in Prayer and Preaching (PPP)
Fr. Udoekpo, Michael Ufok

§  Exod 17:18-13;
§   Ps 121:1-8;
§  2 Tim 3:14–4:2
§  Luke 18:1-8
Today we are called to celebrate and reflect on what I may called, “Persistence in Prayer and Preaching” the word of God (PPP). There is power in prayer of intercession, rooted in the scriptures; praying for one another, for the church and for the community, at large. And this must done without weariness.

We see this in the first reading of today at the battle of Raphidim between the Israelite and the Amelekites. While Joshua physically led the charge Moses stood on the top of the mountain with the staff of God supported by Aaron and Hur. The story is quite dramatic. As long as Moses raised and stretched his hands, in prayers, and of course with the support of Aaron and Hur the Israelite prevailed in the battled. But each time he lowered his hands perhaps because of human fatigue, the Amelekites seemed to have prevailed.

The point here, if I may reiterate, is the power of prayer, and the need to support and pray for one another always. No one is an Island. We ought to constantly support one another in prayers without weariness, knowing that God is always there for us. Even the life of Jesus as you know was marked with prayer and preaching.

 Take for example, Jesus began his journey to Jerusalem in Luke 9:51.  On this journey, he taught the community particularly his disciples many things. He preached charity. He preached modesty. He preached forgiveness and inclusiveness. He taught his disciples how to be compassionate to everyone including those we consider foreigners (Luke 10). He also taught them how to pray (Luke 11). He taught them how to be vigilant and courageous in preaching the word of God; as well as how to be accountable and responsible in dealing with one another (Luke 12:48), since “to whom much is given much is also expected.” He called for repentance (Luke 13). He healed the sick (Luke 14). In the parable of the lost sheep, coin and son he taught them how to reach out for one another (Luke 15), especially the poor (Luke 16). He warned against giving into temptation (Luke 17) and reiterates in the parable of the persistent widow of today’s Gospel, the power of persistence in prayer without weariness.

This power of prayer told in the passage of the Scripture be it in the first reading or in the Gospel parable of today, are all God’s words that endure forever. It does not wear out. It does not fade. It does not disappoint. We can always learn from that out-stretched hands of Moses; that symbolism of prayer. We can always learn from the supporting roles of Aaron and Hur. We can always learn from Christ's parables and teachings. We can always learn from the persistence of that Widow. Those faith stories told in the scriptures live on.

This is what Saint Paul reminds us of in the Second Reading (2 Tim 3:14–4:2), “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (cf. 1 Pet 1:25; 2 Pet 1:19-21; Isa 40:8 and Verbum Domini, n.1). Paul charges us to be persistent in proclaiming and leaving this word in good times in bad times. But importantly, with patience, knowing that if that unjust judge could listen to the persistent widow, our God who is just and righteous, certainly, would listen to each and every one us “day and night” ( Luke 18:7).

In every situation of our lives (illness, family crisis, frustration, betrayal, loss of jobs, poverty and even in successes etc) we want to be aware of this.  We want to be there for one another, your next door neighbor, and your community member. Above all, we want to always, remember PPP- Persistence in Prayer and Preaching the Word of God- and return to God in our needs and thanksgiving,  knowing fully well that, all our help is from the Lord who made heaven and earth ( Ps 121:1-8).

Reflection Questions
1.      What lessons have we learned from today’s scripture passages?
2.      Do we believe that the staff of God is with us?
3.      Are we persistent in our prayers?







Twenty-Ninth Sunday Year C
God's Staff  is with Us
Fr. Udoekpo, Michael Ufok

§  Exod 17:18-13;
§  Ps 121:1-8;
§  2 Tim 3:14–4:2
§  Luke 18:1-8
God is with us in our life’s journeys, in many ways. In the prayer we consistently prayer; in the staff (matah) of our  good leaders consistently raised; in the bread and wine we share, and in the Word of God we preach, meditate upon, and share (2 Tim 3:14–4:2), day in day out.

 In the first reading of today (Exod 17:8-13) as the Israelite were physically battling their way to the promise land, God was spiritually fighting for them, against the  Amelekites in Raphidim.  Interesting saving story. While Joshua physically led the charge, Moses stood on the top of the mountain with the staff of God, in a raising posture, supported by Aaron and Hur. By the way, a Staff is a symbol of God’s saving power, as we saw in the crossing of the red sea (Exod 15), a symbol of God’s presence, his love, his sovereignty, and saving power. What a divine drama here. In this battle, as long as Moses raises the staff and of course with the support of others, Aaron and Hur, the Israelite prevails in the battle. Each time Moses lowers his hands perhaps because of human fatigue, the Amelekites prevails.  One of the lessons here is that we can only prevails in whatever we do when we call upon the name of the Lord; when we not only trust in God and pray to him, but when we do it selflessly, supporting one another.

 We learn this also from Jesus. In Jesus’s days, as he set out on his missionary journeys to Jerusalem, he taught his disciples many things (Luke 9:51), especially charity, modesty, forgiveness, inclusiveness, and prayer (Luke 11) which must be done persistently as highlighted in today’s gospel parable of a poor widow who persistently ask the unjust judge for justice (Luke 18:1-8).

 But how do we pray? What tools do we use in prayer? For Paul’s 2 Letter to Timothy, scripture, the Bible, the Word of God, the passages of the Bible, the Psalms, like today’s Psalm, “Our Help is in the name of the Lord” (Ps 121), the teachings of the Torah, the messages of the Prophets, the gospels, the Pauline Writings, the Letters, the Epistles, are useful instruments for Christian prayer. This is why  Paul says, to Timothy, “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (cf. 1 Pet 1:25; 2 Pet 1:19-21; Isa 40:8 and Verbum Domini, n.1).

  Granted that we do have our own religious, and socio-political challenges and battle to win: the poverty, the corruption in nation’s capitals, the illnesses, the threats of war and terrorism. Prayer, rooted in knowledge of the scriptures, is the key. Prayer for one’s self and one’s neighbors. Trusting in God’s presence through the staff of our just and Christ-like leaders is another key. And this trust as, Paul charges, must be consistent- inspiring us to imitate not only Moses, but the poor widow of the gospel. If the unjust judge in the gospel could listen to the persistent widow, and blessed Israel through Moses’ persistent staffing, our God who is just and righteous, certainly, would listen to each and every one us, whenever we persistently lead with the fear of the Lord, and truly call upon him in prayers! The Staff of God is with Us!

 Reflection Questions
1.      What lessons have we learned from today’s scripture passages?
2.      Do we believe that the staff of God is with us?
3.      Are we persistent in our prayers?













Saturday, October 12, 2019

Remembering with Gratitude Makes us Whole , Homily 28th Sunday Year C,


Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Year C
Remembering with Gratitude Makes us Whole
Fr. Udoekpo, Michael Ufok

§  2 Kings 5:14-17;
§  Ps 98:1, 2-4;
§   2 Tim 2:8-13
§  Luke 17:11-19

In all three readings of today, it is the theme of remembering with gratitude to God that binds them together. In the first reading of today we have the story of Naaman the leper. God has cured him through the prophet Elisha.  Naaman returns to God and Elisha with a sense remembrance and gratitude (2 kings 5:14-17).

In the Gospel reading of today there is a unique story of Jesus curing lepers, on his way to the Cross in Jerusalem, started as far back as Chapter 9. Jesus is quite busy on this journey. He called the disciples, and reproached the less compassionate priests/Levites (Luke 10). He taught the disciples how to pray, unite, forgive and care for one another. He also healed many, including the lepers in today’s Gospel (Luke 17).

With the gift of faith, out of the 10 lepers healed, only one remembered to return to give thanks to the Lord. And he was a Samaritan, a foreigner whose community was always in tension with the Judeans, but not Jesus. Jesus of course would prefer the poor, right from the time the Spirit of the Lord was upon him in Luke chapter 4. He prefers those in prison, those on the margin, those discriminated and segregated upon. He prefers inclusiveness like that episode of him with the Samaritan woman (John 4). He prefers those who are humble and compassionate, the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). Jesus prefers to build bridges, than to burn bridges.
 
Among the ten cured by Jesus it is interesting to see how the 9 other lepers accepted the 1 Samaritan leper among them. Pains and suffering must have united them. But after the healing where are there?  Just as Jesus would have asked,” Ten were cleansed where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (v17).

I think, the point here is that unless remembering with gratitude is a part of our nature, we cannot be whole people. The other nine were merely healed. If ingratitude is more deadly and unsaved, than leprosy, they were in worse shape than before. Only one came back and was made whole and saved, when Jesus said to him “stand up and go, your faith has saved you.”
We owe our parents gratitude, our grandparents, our founder fathers and mothers in faith. We owe our teachers, mentors and friends, spouses, fellow traveler, gratitude. Those who have played a role in our lives, we owe them gratitude! What about our men and women in uniform, those who promote peace, and foster reconciliation!

I was listening to the CNN the other day. I was impressed by a Lady who lamented over lack of prayers and religious education in some schools and public places today. Empathy, sympathy, and good virtues, including how to say “Thank You,” are taught. With no religion and ethics, in some public places, and even homes our new generations are losing the sense of gratitude to God, and to one another.

Truly no one has it all. Whatever state we are (married or celibate, middle class or upper class) we have to learn to be grateful to God. As stated in Paul’s 2 Letter to Timothy today, we do not want to forget the goodness of the Lord, like those nine lepers.  But like Naaman, and the one Samaritan leper, we want to remember the covenant. We want to remember what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, raised from the dead; this descendant of David has done for us (2 Tim 2:8-13). Even on his way to the cross, he reaches out to everyone, including the lepers, with deadly disease. 

In every circumstances of our lives, let us continue to remember, keep in mind  all the goodness of the Lord, and be grateful to Him in our songs, praises and prayers (1Thess 5:18), and  in how we treat one another in words, thoughts an deeds.. Gratitude makes us whole, and saved in Christ Jesus.

Reflection Questions
1.      What have we learned from today’s Bible lessons?
2.      Do we realize that the saving power of God is universal?
3.      What are our leprosies, illnesses and weaknesses?


Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Righteous shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4), Homily 27th Sunday Year C, Fr. Udoekpo, Michael Ufok


Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Year C
The Righteous shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4)
Fr. Udoekpo, Michael Ufok


§  Hab 1:2-3;2:2-4;
§  Ps 95:1-2,6-9;
§  2 Tim 1:6-8,13-14
§  Luke 17:5-10

The importance of faith, a supernatural gift from God, which enables us to believe him and in the teachings of the Church, is central in today’s readings. How do we remain faithful and trusting in God’s plans, and  believe in him, in the midst of hardship, threats, terrorism, war, joblessness, no shelter, no food, frustration, poverty, illnesses, temptations, corruption in some political capitals and all kinds of injustices, prevalent in our world today.  For Habakkuk, the righteous, people like Abraham, Noah, Joseph etc, no matter what, shall live by faith. We are all invited to share in this righteousness and to live by faith. And we do have our personal stories when we feel God is not listening to us, or acting fast to assist us in our troubles.

 Habakkuk of today’s 1st reading must have felt this way. In the midst of sufferings, threat of the Babylonian armies, hunger, deprivation of his people Habakkuk says to God, “O Lord I cry for help, but you are not listening. Actually, God was listening. It will only take faith, patience, and humility, righteousness to realize that God listens to us in a divine, and mysterious way! As was the case with Joseph and Mary, during her mysterious pregnancy, God spoke to Habakkuk in a vision, in a dream, that he was listening to his cry, prayer, lamentation, and to the plight of his people. The Babylonians will not reign forever.

In the 2nd reading, Paul also realize that it was nothing else, but the gift of faith from Christ Jesus that enabled him to move without shame from being a persecutor to a believer. It was the same faith, steadfastness in the love of the Gospel that sustained his confidence, trust, endurance, courage, strength and self-control to proudly bear his sufferings and hardships, including imprisonment throughout all his missionary journeys! With faith, we can bear our temporary sufferings, and carry our crosses to follow Christ!

And this is what Christ expects of his disciples in today’s Gospels. When the Apostles asks the Lord to increase their faith. Jesus says, yes, surely, if you have faith, even as little of the size of the mustard seed, everything is possible. With faith, you could say to that deep rooted tree be uprooted and be planted in the sea, and it will obey you.

It is all about faith, trusting in God in the face of dangers, in the face of terrorism today, in the face uncertainties, poverty, inequalities in our society; in the face of illnesses, and in the face of the loss of our loved ones. Sometimes, it is easily said, that done. Let us like Christ’s disciples, ask the Lord at this Mass, to “increase our faith.”

 Reflection Questions
1.      What have we learned from the Prophet Habakkuk?
2.      Are we sometimes skeptical in matters of faith?
3.      In moments of trials and difficulties do we keep our faith with perseverance and prayer?







Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Year C
The Righteous shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4)

§  Hab 1:2-3;2:2-4;
§  Ps 95:1-2,6-9;
§   2 Tim 1:6-8,13-14
§  Luke 17:5-10
 Few days ago, my last lectures of the week on the “the Prophetic Books,” was actually on the prophecy of Habakkuk. During the lecture I was really very passionate and enthusiastic in explaining and sharing the theology of Habakkuk. I noticed one of my students, beaming with smile. I mean he was all lit up. You could see the joy, and sense of affirmation on his face. When I inquire from him, why he was smiling, He said to me “Fr. That is (i.e., the faith story of Habakkuk) this coming Sunday’s reading,” which is today.

And beginning with Habakkuk, the very theme, from my own point of view,  that runs through today’s reading is  how do we remain faithful and trusting in God’s plans, and gifts of believing, in the midst of hardship, threats, frustration, poverty, illnesses, temptations and all kinds of injustices.

Each of us I believe has personal stories that we can share on the feeling of seeming indifference of God in the midst of dangers and frustrations. Each of us can relate to the person and the faith story of Habakkuk. This prophet was contemporary of Jeremiah, Nahum and Zephaniah- shortly before the Babylonian exile. Habakkuk witnessed not only the internal problems in Judah but the sufferings, injustices and threats of colonialism imposed on them by the eternal forces of the Chaldeans. In the face of this, the first reading presents Habakkuk as a man of prayer. Like Job, he is a person who pours out his soul, mind and heart to God in prayer and songs. He prays not only on his behalf, but on behalf of his community. He is a patriot. He takes the peoples complaints and needs to God. But he is surprise that God has not acted as swiftly as he would think, to punish criminals and eliminate injustices.

God being God, he is never silence, nor reacts as human does! God gives his divine response to Habakkuk through a vision, and divinely commands Habakkuk to write it down on a tablet (2:2-4), so that everyone can see it. And the message of the vision, which will come to pass at God’s appointed time (2:3a), is that the arrogance, the bad behaviors and the injustices of the Chaldeans are just temporary. When the end comes the righteous, the remnant and the just will live, but the arrogant and the proud shall be punished (2:4-5).

What happens between the times of the fulfillment of the promise given in this vision, the end, is how we cherish this gift of faith- the ability for “the righteous to live by faith,” while in transit to God’ fulfillment. How do we remain faithful, steadfast, firm in love and forgiveness in the midst of hardship, while waiting for God to act?

Being former anti-followers of Christ, Saint is aware of these dilemma and difficulties, too. This is why he encourages folks, in his Second Letter to Timothy, that it was nothing else, but the gifts of faith from Christ Jesus that enabled him to move without shame from being a persecutor to a believer. It was the same faith, steadfastness in the love of the Gospel that gave him confidence and courage, strength and self-control to proudly bear his sufferings and hardships, including imprisonment throughout all his missionary journeys!

In fact, Paul seems to also be fully aware of Habakkuk. Lamenting over humanity that seems to have lost the sense of the Gospel Paul says in Rom 1:17, “for in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith’ as it is written, ‘the one who is righteous by faith will live.” In Galatians 3:11 he repeats, “no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for the one who is righteous by faith will live.” And the same endurance and faith is stressed in chapter 10 of the Letter to the Hebrews (vv.37-39).

This same theme continues in today’s Luke’s Gospel. Here, Christ recommends same faith to his Apostles, who must see themselves as servant in the ministry. Taking up the importance of forgiveness as a case study,  Christ  in the preceding verses to this Sunday’s reading told them it does not matter how many times injustices have been committed against you or one has been offended, you must forgive (Luke17:1-4).  The reaction is obvious in the portion we have just read! They said to Christ, O my God, then “increase our faith,” (vv 5-10).

Of course it is Christ’s teaching that with faith, no matter how little, one can say to a stubborn tree like the “mulberry” move from here to the sea, and it will happen. In fact this tree, according to rabbis has a network of complicated root system that it will take about 600 years to untangle them. But with faith this could be done within a twinkle of an eye.

The point here is that with faith we can do something that ordinarily looks impossible. For example, forgiveness!  With faith one can forgive easily. With faith one can endure hardship like Paul and his contemporaries. With faith we can relate to Habakkuk and his contemporaries, in the face of illnesses, frustrations and all kinds of injustices that we may experience today, in our world, society, communities and neighborhoods.  And we want to strengthen this faith by practicing. And the best way to practice our faith is to constantly stay in touch with Christ in Word and Sacraments, and in charitable relationship with our neighbors.  For the righteous shall live by faith (Hab 2:4).


Reflection Questions
1.      What have we learned from the Prophet Habakkuk?
2.      Are we sometimes skeptical in matters of faith?
3.      In moments of trials and difficulties do we keep our faith with perseverance and prayer?


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Acting to Ease the Sufferings of others/ the Poor; Homily 26th Sunday Year C


Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Year C
Acting to Ease the Sufferings of others/ the Poor
Fr. Udoekpo, Michael Ufok

§   Amos 6:1a, 4-7
§   Ps 146:7-10
§   1 Tim 6:11-16, 
§   Luke 16:19-31

Today we live in a world of “you are on your own attitude,” what Pope Francis would call “globalization of Indifference.” There are recorded violent on the street, political corruption in many political capitals, religious abuses in some worship centers, the poor, and the weak, “the Lazaruses,” the voiceless and family values neglected. Today’s readings is a reminder of what each of us, political class and religious people,  must do to ease the sufferings of our neighbors, of our family members, of my colleague, of my spouse, of my friend and of the poor- “the Lazaruses” of our towns and neighborhood.

These were the concerns of the Prophet of today’s 1st reading. A lay man, a famer, a cattle breeder, Amos responded to God’s call from Tekoa, south of Jerusalem to preach to the kings, and the priests – the political and corrupt religious establishment in the north, who were complacent and indifferent to the plight of their poor brothers and sisters, of their time- the 8th century BC.

Amos says, woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock and calves from the stall,” when the majority poor were staffing. They also waste drinks. The wealthy drank, not from ordinarily wine glasses, but from bowls, when others were suffocated by thirstiness. They, the rich, anoint themselves with oil, when the rest of the house of Joseph/Ephraim/Israel were suffering. The word of God is ever alive. Many of us can relate to this from various nation capitals- where the gap between the rich political and religious leaders, and the poor is daily expanding.

In the time of Saint Paul, as noted in the 2nd reading, 1 Timothy 6, - false teachings were floated, to the disadvantage of poor members of the community. As in the time of Amos there were rivalries, insults, evil suspicions and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, deprived of the truth, and who thought religion was a means for material gains ( 1 Tim 6:3-6). Paul says to Timothy, “you man of God,” referring to religious leaders, “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness,’ (vv.11-16), essential qualities of biblical spirituality: righteousness ( sadeqah), justice( misphat), truth ( emet), kindness (chesed), steadfastness (emunah), needed not only by selected preachers, but by every man and woman of God!

But, remember, this is not the first time the expression “man of God “is used in the Bible. We heard of “the man of God,” in Deut 33:1 with reference to Moses, as Israel’s prophet.  In 1 Sam 2:27 God sent a man of God to speak to Eli, when his children were abusing the temple. In 1 Kings 12-13, an unknown man of God is sent from Judah, to address the sins of Jeroboam- corruption, idolatry and disobedience to the Lord. A man of God, is God’s prophet, and messenger! A woman of God, a child of God, is God’s prophetess and messenger.

How often, or easy is it, sometimes for us to blame the neglect of the poor only on the political establishment. We are all, in our own capacities, called to be prophets and prophetess, men and women of God, who assist in easing the burden and the suffering of the poor our society, today- in various ways, no matter how little, show that little kindness, especially to the poor- and the “Lazaruses”.

This is what Jesus truly meant to communicate in today’s Gospel parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Notice, in this parable, how many times did the rich man not ignore the poor man, Lazarus. Notice, the clothing, the behavior, the food, the wine of the rich man. He was like the rich of the time of Amos. These things are not new, Corruption has always been there. But, on the judgment day, Lazarus is saved while the rich man is condemned.

Each of us, men, women of God, political elites, religious people, can easily inherit eternal life through the means in which we respond to the needs of one another; through the way in which we actively act daily to alleviate the sufferings of our neighbors, and the “Lazaruses” of our communities!

Reflection Questions
1.      What have we learned from the scripture readings of today, especially the parable of the rich man and Lazarus?
2.      What can we do in order not to act indifferently towards the plight of our neighbors, the poor in particular?
3.      What have we learned from Pope Francis, and his predecessors, thus far?















Twenty-Sixth Sunday Year C
Solidarity with the Poor/Lazarus and Dives/Rich

§  Amos 6:1a, 4-7;
§  Ps 146:7, 8-10;
§  1 Tim 6:11-16;
§  Luke 16:19-31

Last Sunday we began reflecting on the issue of solidarity with the poor. This same issue is insisted upon in today’s Bible readings: Amos, Paul and Luke. It reechoes part of what we have heard before from Saint Francis of Assisi, and from theologians  such as, Leonardo Boff, Gustavo Gutierrez, John Sobrino, Dorr and even from Mother Theresa of Calcutta and currently Pope Francis. It’s a message that challenges the Pharisees, those who think that they are entitle to power, money and wealth. It challenges, the faithless, those without conscience and compassion, the unrighteous, and those who are impatience with the poor and refuses to secure justice for them ( Ps 146).

 All that we have comes from God and must be shared, since there is always reversal of fortunes. The first could become the last. Those who have big names in this world may end up faceless before God, like the rich man, whose name is not recorded in the Bible, while the name of the faceless-poor, like Lazarus may be boldly printed in God’ dairy. Those who dominate big “gates” in this world may end up “gate-less” in the kingdom of heaven.

Unfortunately this is an age long issue since the time of Amos, middle of the 8th century BC. The reigning kings, politicians and priests were not only proud of their gates, but delighted in maltreating the poor (8:4-7). They preferred to lie on expensive beds, couches made from ivory, and “they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall!’ They listen to good music, drink good wines and showered themselves with best perfumes. All these to the expenses of the poor- tax- payers. It is to those who have such an “I don’t care attitude” toward the poor, that Amos says, “woe to the complacent in Zion.”

Ordinary citizen in most part of the world today including United States can imagine the quality of beds, furniture, meals, wine, and couches that homes, hotels, offices, cars and jets of their high ranking elected officials and politicians are decorated with. Ironically, policies from these furnished homes and offices, State Capitals, do not seem to take the plight of ordinary poor- citizen into account.  Many have no health insurance, jobs, food, clothing and roof over their heads. Currently, many in the States are waiting at the “gate” of the wealthy, even with the threat of a government shut –down!

Jesus uses this parable of the poor Lazarus waiting at this metaphorical gate of the rich, nameless man to address issues of neglect of the poor and abuse of money and wealth. In this parable Jesus is not condemning all the rich while suggesting that all the poor will all go to heaven. Each parable teaches only one point. Jesus does not question how the rich man got his money or that he has it. Jesus does not condemn hard work. The rich man is not even necessarily a bad man because he worked very hard to earn his wealth legitimately. Remember there are many rich people out there in different parts of the world who are deeply caring persons. They are saddened and dismayed by the high rate of unemployment, student’s loans, broken education system, and inflation figures in our government and society. In fact some of them say rosary, they receive Holy Communion and visit with the sick.

Also some of our rich people may have been very generous donor to charitable causes and orphanages. But the rich in this gospel parable, whatever else he was, or charity he may have given, he is blind to the person in need who is sitting outside his gate. He is impatient with him. He does not show that he loves him, he cares for him. He is not kind to him. Therefore, he is condemned for his casual indifference to the very person right at his door.

It is quite possible that we have great compassion for the human race while we ignore somebody, some neighbor next door, down the street, or in the office.  And I think one of the lessons of these parables is that if you have the resources to help and choose not to, you are judged. The poor are judged as well.  Are you grateful when you received? Are you thankful for the little you have? Remember, those who are faithful, thankful, and grateful for the little things will be given more. The poor are to be stewards of what they have as much as the rich or middle class.

The poor can of course be extended from nation to nation. Reading this parable in the light of the events in the United Nations, a friend once said to me, Africa, and other “Third World’ countries or non-industrialized nations could be “Lazarus” at the gate of industrialized “First World,’ nations.

In fact, arrogance can also accompany wealth and power. We see this in the rich man’s encounter with Abraham and Lazarus in heaven. He thinks he is still behind his mansion with big gate, where he stays to issue orders. Seeing the poor Lazarus in heaven, in the bosom of Abraham he cries out, “Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am suffering torment in these flames.” Nowhere are we told in the text that the poor man complained while suffering in the world, nor does he show off because he is now in heaven! The poor man whether on earth, in front of that rich man’s gate, or in heaven at the bosom of Abraham accepted everything- relying always on God’s providence.

It is this divine providence and trust that we must rely upon. All that we have comes from God- are given to be shared, including the good news of Christ; the message of hope, peace, justice, forgiveness, repentance, kindness and righteousness which saint Paul talks about in today’s Second reading. Paul like Amos and Christ, recommend, that in all circumstances, social, political and religious we must “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness” (1 Tim 6:11-16).






Reflection Questions
1.      What have we learned from the scripture readings of today, especially the parable of the rich man and Lazarus?
2.      What can we do in order not to act indifferently towards the plight of our neighbors, the poor in particular?
3.      What have we learned from Pope Francis, and his predecessors, thus far?