“I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.” (Jer 17:10)
Today’s Gospel story was one that always fascinated me as I was growing up: the rich man and Lazarus.
The story sets itself up immediately. There was a rich man who wanted for nothing, nothing at all. He had the best of everything. He did not have a care in the world.
There was a poor man, Lazarus, who had nothing, nothing at all. His whole life was a burden. He was starving the majority of the time. He longed to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table, though he never received any of them.
Inevitably, what has always happened and what will happen to us some day, happened to the rich man and Lazarus. They both died.
The rich man found himself someplace where none of us wants to go and deprived of everything. Lazarus, on the other hand, found himself in heaven, provided all the things that he never had on earth.
The tables were now turned, and turned eternally.
The rich man became the beggar. “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.” But that was not to be.
We are quite blessed in our own lives. We have so much even if we often deny it because we are too busy looking for more. In the process, we often fail to see the needs of others and do not provide for their needs.
The poor are around us every day. Some are poor materially. They need food, shelter, and clothing just to survive. Others are poor spiritually. They need care, support, and prayers to survive. Some are poor emotionally. They need love and encouragement to survive.
Many will never get what they need because we will not be there to aid them. We will be too busy looking to get all that we desire.
But, Jeremiah reminds us in our first reading today that God will reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.
FAITH ACTION: The Gospel story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a potent reminder to us that we can become enamored by the wrong things. Money, fame, power and the like will not guarantee entry into the Kingdom of God. Look to the poor and the needy. Attempt to provide for their need this day.