(Photo illustration by Phil Younk)

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Based on the Gospel of Luke 16: 19-31
Always there! Daily, the news media relays stories, advertisements and commercials about homeless, needy people in our city and country or poor people, especially children, in countries across the world. We are told about the spiritual and physical needs of these suffering people and we’re asked to help.

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus talks about a man who didn’t help a beggar. Jesus says: “There once was a rich man who had expensive clothes, the best food, and who enjoyed himself feasting with friends.

“Outside at the gate of the rich man’s house sat Lazarus, a poor beggar who had no expensive clothes, fancy house, or servants to wait on him.

“His body was covered with sores and dogs kept coming to lick them. Lazarus would gladly have eaten the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table, had they been given to him.

“One day Lazarus died and went to heaven where he was comforted by Abraham.

“The rich man also died, went to hell and was suffering terribly. He begged Lazarus for help, but Abraham reminded him he did nothing to help Lazarus when they lived on earth.”

In this story, Jesus isn’t blaming the man for being rich. He is blamed for not sharing and caring. It isn’t that the rich man did anything wrong to Lazarus. He simply didn’t do the good he could have done – a sin of omission.

Jesus tells us to help the poor and needy. We don’t respond to Jesus’ teaching just by helping them. We need also to check our attitude toward them – thinking of ourselves as different or separate from them. Jesus wants us to see others as he sees them. Jesus doesn’t look at us in separate groups – rich and poor, color of our skin, educated and uneducated, country we live in, team or club membership we hold and so on. He sees all people as created by God and all called to be his children – to love God and others.

Be on the lookout for people in need and be ready to help and share. Every day, somewhere and in some way, we meet someone who needs our time, attention, care and kindness.

All we say and do in our life on earth will decide whether or not we share God’s happiness in heaven forever like Lazarus the poor man, or we pay for our selfishness and lack of love like the rich man.

Now, who is really the rich man or the poor man in this Sunday’s Gospel?