My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ! The pupil took his teacher by surprise. She didn’t know what to say. However after some time of reflection the teacher remembered the words of Abraham from the parable we have just heard: “Between us and you a great gulf has been fixed.” Jesus knew what he said as we acknowledge it every Sunday saying: “He came down from heaven.” In the parable Jesus used two fictional figures of a rich man and Lazarus but he placed them in the real context of the world to come. There is no land between there. There is salvation and condemnation. Between them there is a great gulf.
That gulf, Abraham pointed out to, is something people create in their life. From our own experience we are aware that such a gulf can grow between friends, between children and their parents, between nations, even between husband and wife, though it doesn’t grow on its own. People, by their own actions, words etc., make it deeper and wider. Such a gulf we can also establish between us and God. Just think of Judas. While other Apostles grew closer and closer to Jesus Judas was drifting further and further apart. Both Judas and the rich man from today’s parable weren’t terribly bad people. But both of them ignored God. Judas ignored Jesus Christ whom he was able to watch day and night. The rich man ignored God who through the Ten Commandments, symbolized by Moses, and the teaching of the Scriptures, symbolized by the Prophets, was showing the way of righteousness leading up to the eternal life.
To shake us up Jesus told us the parable of the man who had simply a great time. Some people tried to make it more dramatic by concluding that he got his wealth by oppressing the poor, that he was doing wrong and sinful things. However the drama of the story is that Jesus leaves no doubt that the reason for the man to end up in hell was that he ignored Lazarus, that he didn’t make an effort to notice him. The rich man could have said: “I have never seen Lazarus.” And that’s the core of his sin. He didn’t make an effort. It means he didn’t care.
Our life is not a game. Our choices have got their consequences. Somehow rather it has become popular to think that God’s mercy means that whatever people do will be forgiven. God forgives indeed but his forgiveness leads to change of heart and life. If there is no change of heart and life it means that God’s mercy has been wasted. It means that we have made the gulf between us and God wider and deeper.
My dear Friends! Probably none of us needs to use the back door at home to avoid a beggar sitting at the front entrance. Thus we could say that today’s Gospel doesn’t apply to us. However let me tell you a story. During an abortion procedure a little baby boy was left on the operating table to die. The medical personnel simply waited for 30 minutes for him to die without helping him. Ignoring his crying, ignoring his pain. Again we could say: “What does it have to do with us? We weren’t there.” That’s the excuse of the rich man from the Gospel told by Jesus: “It’s none of my business.” If we keep silent about the babies whose life is threatened by the prospect of abortion, if we keep silent about the elderly and ill who are being forced for euthanasia, if we keep silent about our young people who are given damaging theories regarding their sexual development, if we keep silent when the marriage is being manipulated, we are like that rich man from the parable Jesus told today. The man was a fictional person so that we could see ourselves in his position. Let’s conclude with what St Paul wrote in the second reading: “Fight the good fight of the faith and win the eternal life.” There is no land between. Let’s appreciate the gift of God’s mercy by changing our hearts and minds in the light of the Gospel.