The rich man in today´s Gospel is the proverbial “nice guy.” His good qualities abound. He does, after all, accept his fate meekly. He doesn´t ask to be released from hell; he asks for only a drop of water to quench his thirst. And when he can´t get even that much relief, he begs for a special messenger in the hopes of sparing his own brothers a similar fate. He at least thinks of the welfare of others. Yet, all that niceness didn´t save him from eternal punishment. Do I ever think that just being a “nice” person will get me to heaven? Might I be using my own standards to judge my worthiness, rather than using God´s standards?
The “O” Word The rich man never seemed to be bothered by Lazarus. The poor man was doubtlessly a pitiful sight to behold. Some people would have been quick to send servants to chase the beggar away. But not the rich man; no, he deliberately left the beggar alone. And that is where the rich man erred. He was a sin of omission. The rich man lost his soul not for what he did, but for what he failed to do. Am I much better? Is there someone in need, right under my nose, who I routinely ignore? Is there something I could be doing to end an evil? Do I help the pro-life effort? Do I contribute to the poor? Do I dedicate time to a needy child or sibling or in-law?
Fr Maroun El Kazzi