THIRTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Caritas and Filial Love versus Self-importance
Despite the rampant talk of freedom, human rights, and constitutional rights and gender equality, social stratification still dominates the historical, social, judicial, political, economic and ecclesial landscape of our time. Ethnicity, academic qualifications, professions, and vocations, social and economic status – the pseudo personas – they all set us into our respective groupings that diminish the real essence of freedom and human right as designated by God. Religion and Christianity specifically have not put an end to this form of classifications, human degradation and humiliation. Christianity must never forget that the Church is the soul of the earth. Its culture must transcend the culture of the world.
Self-importance is directly responsible for the sacrileges we commit against one other and the deceptive pieties we believe will guarantee us access to the eternal kingdom. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us: among the children of God, this mentality is immoral; it is destructive. It does not reflect the real nature of the kingdom (Rom.14:17). True righteousness is akin to fraternity, sorority, bread, justice and solidarity for all. The Sacrament of Baptism breaks down every social stratum (Gal.3:28-29) to create a new heaven and a new earth where we share all things human and divine as one family in God (Eph.4:4-6).
Thus, the negligence and disrespect, social and economic prejudice portrayed in the story of Lazarus and Dives have severe consequences – even today. Such patterns of behaviour throw us into hell where we do not belong. This was Jesus’ contention with the Pharisee. The Pharisee prided himself with religious formalism while he overlooked the weightier matters of authentic Christian stewardship. He was oblivious of the saying “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner (1Jn.5:16).” The Pharisee also forgot the maxim, “Do not judge and you will not be judged because the judgments you give are the judgement you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given (Matt.7:1-2).” Both of these sayings along with the outcome of the Pharisee’s posture are reminiscent of the “The Last Judgment (Matt.25:31-46).” A genuine sense of Christian solidarity is the proof of the pudding. We cannot enter the kingdom of God if we fail to respect and pay heed to the rights and privileges of the sufferers at our gates.
The moral of today’s gospel is self-explicit in Sirach 35:12-14.16-19. Our task as Christians in the world is to acquire the persona of God and of Christ. We are the image and likeness of God and he expects us to be his ambassadors, not his judges (2Cor.5:20). If we behave in like manner certainly, we will demolish all the existing class structures still existing in our world, in the Church and in our individual hearts. The appeal God is making to us today is: be humble! Respect all men and women equally. Our virtuousness depends on it. If we continue on our present path, God will not be dilatory in paying us back in our own coins.
What must I do to avoid this tragic end at the final judgement? Paul has set the tone for us: run to the finish. Keep the faith. Work towards the crown of righteousness and keep our eyes focused on fulfilling the Corporal Works of Mercy. Give God the glory forever in our just actions by respecting everyone as our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Lord, take away my sense of prejudice and make me an instrument of your divine love.