Dead one talking
GOD’S WORD TODAY - Jonjee C. Sumpaico SJ (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2019 - 12:00am

The story of the rich person and Lazarus is a story that confronts us. It is a story that makes us uneasy as it asks us to be aware, consider, make a choice and take action in our life here on earth.

The narrative of the reading is an exchange between two people: Abraham and the rich person.

We know Abraham as the father of our faith. His story is celebrated among the members of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Abraham is held as someone important that a person of faith ought to listen too.

We also know of the rich person. Held nameless in biblical accounts, Jesus reminds his audience against being like the rich person. In a different reading, Jesus said: “It is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God… It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” In today’s reading, Jesus, through the character of Abraham, reminds those who are kin to the rich person that “if they do not listen to Moses or the prophets, they will not be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Therefore, the rich person has three sets of persons to listen to: Moses, the prophets, and that Someone who has risen from the dead.

Moses is known to have seen God, and has shared God’s commandments in faith. Moses urges the faithful to take the path to goodness and follow God’s ways. Moses points the believer towards the path of fidelity!

The prophets are known to have given witness to fidelity by speaking the truth and living the truth in their lives. Many were persecuted. Many of the prophets were killed as a result of fighting for the truth. Prophets point the believer towards the path of truth!

Believers also know of Someone who has risen from the dead. Little did those listening to Jesus know that the person who had the words of eternal life was already right in front of them. Jesus points the believer to God’s self – towards the path of life!

The paths of being faithful, being truthful, and being authentically full in life, oftentimes fall on deafened ears, blinded eyes, and hardened hearts. These are the conditions which the rich person finds himself in. The rich person chose to be quiet and remain with the status quo while there was a great necessity to help out those in need. Richness did not allow the person to hear the cries of Lazarus who suffered in poverty. Richness blinded the eyes of the rich person as he was focused on wealth, power and fame. Richness hardened the heart of the rich person to the point that he only saw kin who suffered the same rich lifestyle  – and the same unbelief!

There is a Filipino saying that encapsulates the lesson of Jesus: “Nasa huli ang pagsisisi.” It is in the end that one regrets. It may be wise not to wait for the end but begin to act now. There are many people who point us to the present suffering that the nation and even the world experiences. There are people who continue to point us towards goodness – of following God’s ways. Do you have people in your life who you consider such? There are people who strive to tell the truth and live out truthful lives despite being threatened and persecuted. Can you look into current events and identify those who take a political, environmental, and even humanitarian stand against the evils of lies and deceit? There are people who continue to remind us to believe in God and in God’s message to us despite the lures of richness that take away our grounding to what is important in life. Who are these people who serve as reminders to keep your feet planted on God’s good earth with God’s holy people?

If you find it difficult to identify good, truthful, and grounded people in your life, stop a while and consider your life. Your rich dead brother might be trying to get to you.

LAZARUS WEALTH
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