THE SERVANT GENERAL
NO ONE IN NEED
RICH AND POOR
Today’s gospel: Luke 16:19-31
Today’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a picture
of the situation of social injustice in the world today. A
small percentage of persons and nations hold the major part
of total wealth, while the majority of people are poor. But
it is not the imbalance in power or riches that makes for
social injustice, but rather, it is the lack of sharing and
the improper exercise of power that favors the rich and marginalizes
contrast between Dives and Lazarus is striking. “There
was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was
a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores” (v.19-20).
Dives was filthy rich, wearing expensive clothing and feasting
every day. Lazarus was filthy in his poverty. He was hungry
and sickly. Lazarus was just lying outside the door of Dives.
It is like many affluent walled and gated subdivisions, with
homeless squatters as their neighbors just outside their walls.
would not have taken much to provide for the needs of Lazarus,
as he “would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.” (v.21a).
Dives could have satisfied the hunger of Lazarus, giving not
even from his abundance but just from his waste. Today the
rich throw away a lot of good food, while many others in the
developing nations are starving.
was Dives basking in his wealth, while his neighbor was deprived,
not only of the bare necessities, but even of his dignity,
as “dogs even used to come and lick his sores.”
(v.21b). Here was a classic case of social injustice. And
failure to love one’s neighbor.
here is the crucial reality, for both rich and poor alike.
In this earthly life the rich seem to have it all while the
poor have nothing. But in the afterlife, the fates of both
will be reversed. “When the poor man died, he was carried
away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also
died and was buried, and from the netherworld, .... he was
in torment” (v.22-23a). The poor man Lazarus goes up
to heaven while the rich man Dives goes down to hell.
from social justice, there is a deep lesson for us all. We
should not only look to the good in life, and we should not
despair if we experience the bad. Abraham told Dives, “My
child, remember that you received what was good during your
lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but
now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.”
(v.25). People strive to get what they believe to be good
things in life (money, power, possessions), and in the process
live only for themselves, neglecting those in need who are
just around them. On the other hand, people deplore the bad
things that happen to them, not seeing that oftentimes the
struggles, sacrifices and pains in life are what bring them
to holiness, total dependence on God, and empathy for all
those who suffer. If we have this perspective, then whatever
happens to us, good or bad, we can be grateful to God and
rejoice even in adversity.
we can strive to better ourselves in life, we must be careful
not to lose sight of where we are ultimately going. What good
indeed would it be to gain the whole world but suffer the
loss of our soul? So in life we must be grateful for the good
we receive, we must be grateful for the good that would come
out of the bad that we experience, and we must share the good
that God gives us with those in need. Only then can we be
assured of eternal life in heaven.
was just outside Dives’ door. The poor, and what we
do for the least of our brethren (see Matthew 25:31-46), are
our way to eternal life. We must act now, and not wait until
it is too late. “Moreover, between us and you a great
chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might
wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.”
(v.26). While there is as yet no great chasm, while we still
have the opportunity to reach out to the poor, as we see the
poor all around us, we must do so.
Such is the importance of our work as a community, with our
Core Value of Having a Preferential Option for the Poor.
This is why we all need to support our No One in Need
(NONe) movement. For our brethren in rich nations,
where they would not encounter the poor just outside their
doors, they should look to gathering resources that would
be sent to support our work in the developing world.
Dives have the last word: “Then I beg you, father, send
him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers,
so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place
of torment.” (v.27-28).