A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 16:19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees: "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: '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."
Jean Valjean is my favorite character in Victor Hugo's 'Les Miserables' . Valjean, who after spending nineteen years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread and several escape attempts, is finally released. But his past cannot be shaken. Valjean can find no shelter, no mercy but at last is befriended by the saintly bishop, Monseigneur Myriel. However, Valjean repays his kindness by stealing his silver and he is apprehended by the police and they drag him to the Bishop's home, and the police ask the Bishop if this is his silver. Valjean is about to be sent back to prison, but the kindly Bishop states that Valjean left too soon and forgot this 'one last piece of silver' and hands it to him. Valjean is surprised and the police are forced to release him. This is the first time Valjean experiences mercy. His life then is turned around and he in turn is generous to others and receives back much more than he gave away. He finds God.
In this scripture we see --rich and poor, compassion and indifference, caring and contempt , heaven and hell and the reversal of fortune. At the end we are all beggars, whether we are rich or poor. Like Valjean we are all at the cross awaiting God's mercy. We are all journeying back to God, and how we treat one another will make a big difference where we will find our final treasure when we die. Who do we want to be? Lazarus or the rich man?
Hear the kindness in Abraham's greeting to the rich man-"My child". God still loves us in spite of our choices. I had to be taught how to be good and kind. It came from my parents, family, teachers, kindred spirit friends, and the Holy Spirit. This verse is foremost in my thoughts when the option to do good or evil arises. " Learn to do good, search for justice, help the oppressed, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow, wash yourselves and make yourselves clean." ( Isaiah 1:16-18).
Pray that our priests will always be humbled in their possessions and share their spiritual wealth with all of us.