Lazarus and the Rich Man

ImageI have always loved watching the rays of the sun bursting forth in the sky in all directions. Be it the first glimmering of dawn or the slow fading of the setting sun or the full splendor of the noon day, the rays of the sun reminds of the infinite and unconditional love and grace that God pours out to all of us every moment of our lives. A life might be bad or blessed, it is still in God’s hands. This truth is sometimes difficult to accept or to see. But for Pope Francis, nothing can be clearer nor more certain:

“I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else-God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

Pope Francis is out to change the current global view based on this truth. In 2008, when the financial meltdown happened, the leaders of the world scrambled around to save financial institutions that were too big to fail. Some were let go into bankruptcy but many were given billions in aid and assistance to save them from collapse. Never mind that the opportunism of these corporations has caused the loss of the savings of millions of ordinary people. Now, five years after, these leaders are patting themselves in the back for have averted a bad situation from getting worse. They have rewarded themselves  with fat pay increases that averaged more than 80% since the start of the crisis. Meantime, the ordinary employees have seen their own paycheck increase by no more than 15% during the same period. In the meantime, the gad between the rich and the poor has become even greater.

All these decisions and intervention were done by the rich and for the rich. Pope Francis would change all of that. It has always been that the fulcrum of decisions have always been the rich. The Pope would have that fulcrum shift to the poor. The decisions that affect the live of people should not be decided in or by Wall Street. Ask the people who live on Main Street. Even more radical than that, Pope Francis says to ask the people on the edges, on the peripheries. Ask those who have to live on a dollar day, not those who have billions in their bank accounts. Ask those who go to bed hungry every night, with only sleep to relive their hunger pangs, not those who feast on hundred-dollar meals as everyday fare. Ask those who shiver in the cold for want of warm clothing, not those whose walk-in closets are bigger and more luxurious than the hovels of the poor.

Often the poor are condemned as being lazy, illiterate, unmotivated and deserving of their lot in life. Scrounging through garbage the whole day just to have something to eat is not lazy. Surviving in the streets with nothing but your wit may not require literacy but it does need a lot of smarts. Getting up in the morning and even sometime managing a smile, in spite of the raw deal life might have dealt you, requires a lot of spunk and spirit. Often, the poor are poor because of unjust structures and systems, because some have more, much much more than they need, because there are those who just want to keep others down to get the semblance or feeling that they are up.

Pope Francis is not waiting for the next life to see that happen. He wants to see that change happen here and now. I join him and will do what I can to contribute. I will not have nor keep more than what I need. I will give or share what I have. I will be welcoming of everyone in need even if they are stinky or messy or repugnant to the senses.

‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.
Luke 16:19-25,27-31

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