Wednesday, September 25, 2013

26th Sunday in OT (C) - Disconnection

Luke 16:19-31
September 29, 2013

GOSPEL READING: The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

“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, 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, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘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.

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.’ He said, ‘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.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”

REFLECTION: “Disconnection”

When I was in high school, our Science teacher asked us to do a group project to be submitted a week after. Our group agreed to do the project at the house of one of our classmates. It happened that my group mates were the top guns of our class. So, I thought to myself that they could already finish the project even without my help. I decided not to go there and told them that my mother asked me for an errand. I lied. I did not really carry any errand but I only played chess at the city park on the day of our work. I saw our project during the submission day and it was, indeed, perfectly done. My group mates were very happy with the outcome of their work and, of course, with the excellent grade given to our group. I joined them with their celebration. But behind every smile and laughter, pain of guilt was piercing my heart. I felt unworthy of the accomplishment of our group. It gave me a kind of feeling of isolation, uneasiness. It was as if there was a great “chasm” that separates me from their merriment.

The story of the rich man in our Gospel today is about his suffering, a suffering from great isolation, his deep longing for somebody who could help him ease the pain of loneliness, somebody who could at least give him a drop of water to quench his “thirst” for a companion. But no one could come near him because of the great chasm that separates him away from his father Abraham and Lazarus and to the rest of his loved ones. He was all alone. His situation apparently tells us that pain must be so intense that he thought immediately of his brothers. He was hoping that they may not experience the same fate by begging God to send Lazarus to warn them. Yet God rejected his request. Instead, he totally cut off all his means of communication.

It is the feeling of being taken for granted that really hurts the most especially if it is done to you by someone really close to you, someone whom you really expect to be caring for you and loving you. In our story, the fact that Lazarus was able to pick up the crumbs under the table of the rich man suggests that he must be one of the rich man’s relatives, friends or maybe servants, somebody whom he knows personally. Thus, the closeness of Lazarus and the rich man, in terms of distance and relationship, added more to the pain that tormented Lazarus in his earthly life. Apparently, the rich man is guilty of sin of omission; a sin that is committed by not doing what is ought to be done, basically good acts towards our brethren, to ourselves and to God. In the case of the rich man, he deprived Lazarus (not to be confused with Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary) of his basic needs in life; food, water, shelter, medicines, etc. Rather than extending his arms, he turned his back away from him, treating Lazarus as if he does not exist. At that very point, he deliberately cut off his connection to him. He gave up his obligations towards him and totally neglected him. He might have thought that by doing so, by denying his existence, Lazarus would never become a burden to him anymore. But he was wrong. Little did he know that after his earthly life, he will find himself all alone, separated from everyone. Now, his suffering is even worse than what Lazarus experienced during his earthly life.

We always isolate ourselves from God, from others, every time we commit sin. We isolate ourselves by failing to express our charity to our needy brethren. We isolate ourselves every time we fail to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit a sick person, a prisoner, bury the dead; when we do not correct others of their faults and teach them of good things to be done, when we do not pray for others for the conversion of our fellow sinners, when we fail to love our brothers and sisters, especially our poor brethren.

We create our own “chasm” that isolates us from others and from God, the source of our life and happiness, by not doing our part in realizing the plan of God for all of us, by being selfish and self-centered. We have to overcome this isolation by being generous and charitable to other. Let us act now and start building connections with all humanity by doing good things at all times.


SEM. EMIL D. VALEZA, O.P. is member of the Dominican Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines. He is a Theology IV student of the University of Santo Tomas the Archdiocese of Caceres.


Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Domfrat, Guilt, Suffering, Isolation, Longing, Loneliness, Parable, Sin, Love

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