HOMILY, 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
1 Timothy 6:11-16
*THEME: HOW TO MISS HEAVEN*
Beloved in Christ, the readings today invite us to reflect on the day of judgement by exposing us to how the unjust will end up as well as how God will reward the poor. This is a warning to those who derive their joy and comfort from the miseries of the poor and the weak.
Beloved, we are being challenged to change our way of seeing things with specific reference to our understanding of riches. Today, we are told that the word “rich” is not about a person’s economic conditions but rather something that a person relies upon. For example, what do we trust in and upon what(or whom) do we place our faith? God or something else? We are not to measure our richness by our economic conditions but by our relationship with God.
My dear friend, in spite of this warning, there are still some people who see material wealth as a sign of God’s favour(cf Deut 28:3-4) and are thus blinded to the happenings around them. And this was the situation of the rich man in the gospel.
On the other hand, there are some people who see material poverty as a curse from the Lord and would see the dogs licking Lazarus wounds as a punishment from the Lord(cf 1 Kings 21:19) forgetting the promise of comfort from Jesus to those who mourn for him on this earth.(cf Matt 5:4)
Beloved, if we don’t put our trust in God, then no amount of wealth can save us or be a substitute for God. Let us also be clear in mind that Jesus is not against the rich for scripture tells us that even some of his friends were rich(cf Matt 9:9-13, 27:57-60; Luke 8:3, 19:1-10). However, he is against the blindness to the reality around us because of our riches.
Consequently, the rich man in the gospel was not condemned for being rich but for not showing charity to the poor man. He thus missed heaven for what he failed to do. The sin of the rich man is not his accumulation of wealth but his unconcern for the poor and suffering. This is described beautifully by Edmund Burke “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
My dear friend, it is equally important to note also that our friend Lazarus went to heaven not just for being poor but for putting his trust in God; for there was no jealousy or envy in him.
We therefore miss heaven when we fail to show concern by taking into account the needs of the person next to us.