THEME: CHRIST BECAME POOR TO MAKE US RICH
READINGS: Amos 6:1,4-7/ 1 Timothy 6:11-16/ Luke 16:19-31
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The theme is derived from the verse for today’s gospel acclamation: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9). The richness here is not earthly wealth. It refers primarily to the divine or heavenly wealth that Jesus gratuitously shares with us.
- CHRIST IDENTIFIES HIMSELF WITH THE POOR
If Jesus Christ became poor (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9), then it means that He identifies Himself with the poor. Indeed, He so identifies with the poor such that whatever is done to them is done to Him (cf. Matt. 25:31-46). One could, therefore, surmise that as Jesus told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (a name which means “whom God helps” or “help of God”), He saw Himself in the latter personality (cf. Luke 16:19-31).
Firstly,He who experienced hunger after His forty days and nights of fasting, could identify with the hungry Lazarus. Secondly, in Lazarus who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table, Christ probably remembered the temptation to turn stones into bread. Thirdly, in the man covered with sores, Christ probably foresaw the bruises of His passion. Fourthly, Christ might have seen His ascension in the scene of the Angels carrying Lazarus to heaven after his death.
- OUR OBLIGATION TOWARDS THE POOR
If we have the obligation to serve Christ, and He so identifies Himself with the poor, then we have obligations towards the poor. That is, we are to feed them when they are hungry, give them water when thirsty, clothe them when naked, welcome them when stranded, visit them when sick or imprisoned, etc.
- REWARD FOR THE CHARITABLE
The poor are a gate to heaven and charity done to them is the key to open the gate. Thus, those who did good to the hungry, thirsty, naked, stranded, sick and imprisoned, were rewarded with eternal glory in the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 25:34-36).
Ironically, in the parable of today’s gospel reading, the rich man saw Lazarus by the gate of his house, yet he didn’t recognize the poor man as a gate to heaven. Unfortunately, therefore, he missed the opportunity to secure the key to heaven through charity to Lazarus. Beloved, unlike that rich man, let’s always be kind to the poor and needy so that we can secure the key to a gate of heaven.
- REWARD FOR THE POOR WHO TRUST IN GOD
Poverty by itself does not guarantee one’s entry into the heavenly Kingdom. For a poor person might curse God or lose faith in Him due to his/her condition. Therefore, trust in God by the poor is crucial. It is that which opens the way to God’s reward. So,though not explicitly stated in today’s gospel reading, Lazarus the poor man entered heaven because he trusted in God.
Therefore, in poverty, let us not waver but rather be steadfast in faith in anticipation of our eternal reward.
May Christ give us the grace to evermore appreciate how He identifies Himself with the poor, to be always charitable to them, to receive the ultimate reward of heaven, and to steadfastly trust in God in times of poverty. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis