The Lazaruses of Today

#HugotFatherGee

The Rich Man and Lazarus

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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

[Filipino Introduction]

Si Lazaro dukha, walang pera, puno ng galis sa kanyang katawan. Kumakain ng mga tira-tirang pagkain mula sa hapag ng kanyang among mayaman. Kahit batid and kahirapan sa kanyang mga mukha, sya’y nakangiti, nais Makita ang liwanag sa tila madilim na mundo. Naghihinagpis ngunit nagnanasang makapiling ang kanyang Ama sa langit. May mga pagkakataong gustong bumitiw ngunit kumakapit pa rin ng mahigpit hanggang sa kamatayan.

[English Version]

Lazarus was a very poor and sickly man with no money as possession but sores all over his body. He would gladly eat from scraps that fall under his master’s table. Though you can sense a deep sadness from his very eyes, he keeps a smiling face filled with joy deep in his heart. With deeper longing within him, he saw the LIGHT of Christ shining out in the seeming DARKNESS of the world. Sorrowful and yet hopeful, he yearned for His Father’s embrace in Heaven. There were times when he would like to give up and fall down and yet he stood firmly under His Father’s grasp even until death.

[Filipino Intro.] Kung ang pangyayaring ito ay naganap sa Pilipinas, maririnig natin ang background music na tila sinasabi ni Hesus:

[English Version] If this event happened in the Philippines, you will a song as background music as if Jesus was saying:


(Kung wala ka nang maintindihan

Kung wala ka nang makapitan

Kapit ka sa akin, kapit ka sa akin

Di kita bibitawan) - Excerpt from "Wag Ka Nang Umiyak" Sung by Gary Valenciano

If everything seems unclear

If you can’t find anything/anyone to hold onto

You can hold on to me/ You can count on me

I will never let go of you/ I will never fail you. (English version, a personal translation)

Who’s giving up? Who’s letting go? Who will continue to grasp firmly even in the midst of trials and difficulties? We have in this Sunday’s Mass a classic parable of the plight and redemption of Lazarus. A man who lived a very miserable life and yet was graced by God to live with Him in Heaven, not because he was poor and sickly, but because of God’s mercy that He was blest with a deserving life he was deprived of. Last Sunday, we reflected about stewardship and how we can become good stewards of God. This Sunday, Jesus reminds us to put to good use the gifts we have received from Him. Wealth is not bad in itself as it is a gift from God. But as the giver of gifts entrusted it to us, we have to make sure that they are used to uplift the lives of those who have less of it. Just like in the song I just sang, by making use of the “wealth” God has entrusted to us, other people may be able to hang on to life with full trust and confidence in God.

Some points for reflection this Sunday:

1. We have enough “RICHES” from God to share with others. God has blessed each one of us with TIME, TALENT, TREASURE and even FAITH or a combination of many blessings. The parable invites us to share what we have been given with others in various ways, instead of using everything solely for selfish gains.

Guideposts magazine, several years ago, published an account of how a young woman named Mary Bowers MacKorell found an effective weight loss plan. Mary’s doctor told her she needed to lose several pounds. She went through many diet plans, counted her calories and used dietetic foods, but found that she just didn’t have the necessary willpower. One day she received a pamphlet about needy people in her mail. Pictured on the pamphlet was a dark-skinned, scrawny, near skeletal boy. MacKorell says that she experienced a kind of spiritual shock treatment at the sight of the starving child. She began to think more seriously about how she could take off unnecessary pounds and put them where they were needed on this starving child. "At last I had a spiritual motivation for reducing," she said. "Under God’s guidance I formed a practical plan and carried it through. For a period of ten days I ate only two meals a day, skipping lunch. Each day at the lunch hour I sipped a sugar free drink and looked at the picture of the starving boy. I prayed to God to bless him and let my extra weight be transferred to him or someone like him. For each lunch I omitted I placed in a box for missions one dollar saved. Now there is a diet plan I can recommend.”

Such is the thought of today’s Gospel reading. We have the capacity, the resources and the necessary gifts and in Mary Bowers experience, the motivation which we can share to others. In our own little ways, we can give a helping hand to those who are in need of those gifts.

2. Sharing in LOVE/CHARITY is the ultimate criterion of God’s Judgment. In line with the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the then Pope John Paul II in Yankee Stadium, New York during his first visit to the U.S. on October 2, 1979 said these words "The parable of the rich man and Lazarus must always be present in our memory; it must form our conscience. Christ demands openness to our brothers and sisters in need – openness from the rich, the affluent, the economically advanced; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped and the disadvantaged. Christ demands an openness that is more than benign attention, more than token actions or halfhearted efforts that leave the poor as destitute as before or even more so. ...We cannot stand idly by, enjoying our own riches and freedom, if, in any place, the Lazarus of the 20th century stands at our doors.”

But, who are the “Lazaruses” of the 20th century? Let me answer this question with a very concrete example in the person of Fr. Luciano Feloni, an Argentinian priest, who is pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Caloocan City. In a program he dubbed as: “Healing, not killing” he works with government officials in his parish to help rehabilitate those who surrendered as “drug addicts.” As opposed to killing them, giving them a “chance” at life to renewal, is for Fr. Feloni a better way to address the drug problem. With what is happening in the Philippines right now, it is crystal clear who the “Lazaruses” are today who need a share of our love/charity.


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3. The UNBORN as our brother/sister, Lazarus. Cardinal Tagle, in an interview about extra-judicial killings, exhorted all Catholics to be consistent especially on issues about life. Such issues do not only cover those being killed because of drugs, but also abortion – the killing of the unborn child which seems to have been neglected and never paid attention to by the government. I remember praying in front of an abortion clinic in the U.S. together with teachers of the parish school as well as the students who take turn to pray that unborn helpless children be given the right to live. Each year, as this is done by Pro-Life groups, a number of abortion clinics have closed. Though only very few abortion clinics close each year, little by little, out of concern and awareness for these unborn children, we are confident that eventually life will win! I do believe that each one of us has been gifted with enough wisdom to know that life is a gift; that an unborn child has a right to life and to enjoy that gift God has given him/her. As Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers [to the Lazaruses of today], you do to me.”

(Kung wala ka nang maintindihan

Kung wala ka nang makapitan

Kapit ka sa akin, kapit ka sa akin

Di kita bibitawan) - Excerpt from a Song sung by Gary Valenciano

If everything seems unclear

If you can’t find anything/anyone to hold onto

You can hold on to me/ You can count on me

I will never let go of you/ I will never fail you.

Let these words come from our very own mouth. Let us be living “assurances” to the Lazaruses of today, that indeed, there is a God who is merciful, compassionate, and loving by being someone else’s hands that people can cling on to.

Wag Ka Nang Umiyak

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