At The Door Was A Poor Man

By Sr. Redempta Twoney

The baby who was born in a cave; the family who could not afford place in the Inn. We think of these at Christmas, but then sometimes we lose part of the message in the midst of the dazzling light of the angels and the sound of music. Sr. Redempta uses a gospel parable to explain the meaning to us Jesus’ call to stretch out to the poor.

There was once a rich man who, like many others, spent money on beautiful clothes and relished the gourmet dishes served him every day. Maybe it was the rich food or the high living, but in any case he died and went straight down to a place” where he was in torment.” in the hell of sufferings he look up, and who did he see far away with the great and holy Abraham but the poor smelly wretch who used to lie outside his place.

The shocking thing about this story which Jesus tells in Luke 16 is that the rich man is not accused of cruelty to the beggar Lazarus, of being violent towards him, of having him beaten up or thrown out. His sin was that he took no notice of him at all, that he was in different to his plight.

Maybe that man started off well. Did he listen to the Word of God? Bout then as life went on and he accumulated wealth, did he become choked by riches and pleasured and so fail to produce “mature fruit?” (Lk. 8:14). The story does not picture him as being cruel or oppressive, or tell that he was in any way a bad or evil man, he simply enjoyed a very comfortable life and left the rest of the would go by. “You go your way and I’ll go my way “could be his motto. His wealth insulated him from the misery which lay outside his door.

That kind of immorality, indifference to the suffering of others, is what we must struggle against today if we want to avoid the same fate as the rich man in the story. “The poor you have always with you,” (Mk. 14:7) our Lord told us, and we are undoubtedly more conscious of the millions of people who live on the margins of life today, who barely exist. Their numbers are overwhelming, and we can feel crushed by the enormity of the pain and suffering of people. Seeing the gaunt, emaciated faces of the victims of disease or famine of our television screens, w want to reach our and help them, but all too often we don’t know how. “Isn’t it terrible,” we say, and we leave it at that. But that is not enough.

“If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you. Rescue those who are being daggled to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not. If you say, ‘I know not this man!’ does not he who tests heats perceive it? (Proverbs 24: 10-12)” How many are being dragged to death today, because their chronic poverty deprives them of food or medicines? How many are being relentlessly executed by the World Debts? Don’t think you are uninvolved, that this is a problem of others. Read the text farm the Book of Proverbs again. This is a tie of adversity; it is the time of choice, may the Lord enable us to be His true followers and guide us in the way of justice and peace.

It is important we begin where we are, in our own locality. As we pray for guidance and read the stories of the gospel, we will grow in deeper understanding of our Lord’s great compassion and identification with the poor. We ask him to give us a heart like His. Real prayer will lead to action for justice. It will waken us up to what is going on, to the injustice pertaining society’s structures, the injustice which ensures that many are able to “be dressed in purple garments and fine linen,” able to “dine sumptuously each day,” because others are poor.