THE DANGER WITH BEING RICH
Sep 23, 2016
This Sunday Parable reveals a great spiritual truth about what really matters in life.
Today Lazarus and the rich man are sending us wake up alarms. Lazarus tells us “what matters is that when we are emotionally and mentally “attached” to our possessions, we don’t understand what’s important. We are invited to be detached from things of the material world, not only physical possessions but also base emotional and mental possessions such as superiority, depression, anger, immaturity, pessimism, closed-mindedness, lustfulness and fear. Ideally, we align ourselves with the” things” of the spirit. Then we could have all the material possessions we want but we wouldn’t be attached to them; and if we lose them we would still be centered in our connection with the spiritual.
The rich man tells us “what matters is that God won’t grant our requests if we don’t actively engage in our own conversion. God doesn’t give the rich man the two things he is asking for because, the rich man is distant from the divine due to his attachment to the material world and he also lacks compassion toward Lazarus during their lifetime. The gap is not closed by simply a direct granting of the requests, rather the rich must make an effort to understand how to be generous, compassionate and aligned with the spirit and thereby close the gap in his own.
The danger with being rich – and this what Christ warns against – is the excessive attachment, the selfishness and insensitivity that go with it. The rich man is possessed by his wealth instead of possessing his riches. According to Leo Tolstoy, the Great Russian novelist and social reformer, this is the greatest form of slavery because it is impersonal.
A story is told about an elderly rich miser who had vast real estate properties. Suddenly he became extremely ill. His temperature soared to over 103. His frightened wife sent for a doctor. After examining the patient, the doctor said, “Madam, I’m sorry I must tell you that your husband is terminally ill. He cannot possibly survive.
All I can suggest to you is PRAYER AND SACRIFICE.
Hearing this, the worried husband summoned up his remaining ounce of strength and whispered, “Go out and find some poor people and give them some gifts from my money. Then go to the nearest Church and pray that God may spare my life.” The wife immediately went to the most depressed area of the town and gave a big amount of money to some poor families. Then she went to a Catholic Church and fervently prayed for the recovery of her husband. Whereupon, the patient’s condition rapidly improved and, like a miracle, within days he had completely recovered.
The wife related what she did to the husband. But when the old miser heard she had given a big sum to the poor, he was angry. “Why did you do such a thing? he bellowed. “But you yourself told me to give the money,” she told him. To which he replied, “But with my temperature over 103, didn’t you know I was delirious then?” You may laugh at the funny answer of the miser but aren’t we in a way like him at times? Even if we have more than enough material resources, we hold to them tightly. Whenever Jesus speaks about poverty or wealth, his main concern is freedom. The rich miser in the story was selfish. His selfishness destroyed his freedom to share. One of the best tests of our freedom from attachment to material things is our willingness to share what we have. Finally, remember the other message of the parable. There is God who will judge us in the use or misuse of our material gifts.
In this last week of September, we celebrate feast days of great saints like St. Vincent de Paul on the 27th. This day is also a day for all St. Vincent de Paul Conferences. On the 28th, the feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions is celebrated by the Filipino Community as the first martyr saint of the Philippines. The feast of the Archangels: Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is on the 29th. Finally, on the 30th, the feast of St. Jerome is commemorated.
This is all for now, watch for the next bulletin.
Your Priest-Servant and Parochial Administrator,