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Selection of the sermons of Father Ezekiel Oko


Sermon for 26th Sunday of the Annual Circle in the reading year: C

At the rich man's door lay a poor man

“Once upon a time there was a rich man, clothed in purple and fine linen, and lived gloriously and joyfully day by day” is how Jesus’ story begins in today’s Gospel. The man clothed himself in purple and fine linen! Purple is the color of royalty; fine linen a symbol of his eminent status in society. That he lived gloriously and happily every day shows how prosperous he was and that he lived in a comfort zone. This man lived in prosperity and had everything he needed to live on.

But what did he do wrong? What was his mistake that made him go to hell after he died? Is it reprehensible to be wealthy? No! Because there is nothing wrong when our hard work and endeavors are rewarded with wealth. There would have been nothing reprehensible about this rich man's story if it had only been about living in wealth. He was also not reported to get in anyone's way. Then what crime did he commit?

At his door lay a poor, sick man who sought his help. But he did nothing to help the unfortunate and miserable Lazarus! Instead, he responded to Lazarus' plight with contempt and indifference. His inaction in this case is a big mistake. When a rich man lives in such incomprehensible abundance without noticing the plight of the poor around him, that is bad.

Whenever I read this story, I ask myself: Why didn't the rich man help poor Lazarus? Why didn't he see the plight of this man? Why didn't he feel sorry for him? How could that even happen?

He was so shut up in himself, in his wealth, that he could see nothing beyond himself and his earthly wealth. Even the dogs had noticed the plight of the suffering Lazarus and were able to help him; they were his hosts, while his fellow men showed him no hospitality.

Dear sisters and brothers, this story describes the great gap between the poor and the rich. There have always been rich people who live in incomprehensibly great luxury. Even at the time of the prophet Amos in the 8th century BC, the gap between rich and poor widened. Amos takes the option for the poor and downtrodden. He openly accuses the rich, as we heard at first reading.

Even today there are still so many Lazarus in the millions wandering in this world and we are called to share with them and help them with what we have.

The United Nations once released a statistic according to which we have $37 billion in food for more or less nearly 6 billion people around the world. So we have so much food. Yet a third of the entire world population is homeless and without food. 500 million are malnourished; 14,000 die every day because they have nothing to eat. Why, why is it happening this way? Is that the will of God?

Dear sisters and brothers, this disturbing parable exhorts us to pay attention and open our eyes to the needs of those around us. All those who are materially and spiritually poor seek our attention. The rich man's sin could also be our sin if we don't lift a finger to help all the Lazarus around us.

Mother Teresa said, "They have nothing to eat...they are homeless, not because they have no home, but because they are rejected."

Sometimes we become blind from allowing personal interests to overshadow charity. It should be the other way around. Charity should bring us out of ourselves. Even if we can't save the whole world, there are things we can do to alleviate some of the suffering of others. Dear sisters, dear brothers, where we are there for the needy, there we find true joy.



Gospel of 26th Sunday of the Annual Circle in the reading year C:

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16,19-31

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.

Hunde lecken die Geschwüre des Lazarus. Die Reichen sitzen am Tisch und lassen neue Mahlzeitenzeiten zubereiten.
Vom reichen Mann und vom armen Lazarus
Früchteteppich 2017 Sargenzell

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[6] The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.

And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”