The community of believers was of one heart and mind (Acts 4, 32)
The rich man does not avail of Lazarus’ presence to be in solidarity with him. He maintains the separation, letting stand the sharp contrast between them. The last, then, covered with sores, remains lying at the door, with stray dogs for company; the first, for his part, holds on to his comfortable and luxurious lifestyle.
And given the saying, “Such life, such end,” it does not come as surprise that the one who has distanced himself from a kin finds himself so far off from the one who is now first. Of course, the occupier now of the last place still thinks little of Lazarus and asks that he be a servant who will bring him relief and will warn his brothers. But it appears there is nothing that can be done about him and his brothers. The seed of separation has grown into a great chasm that is impossible to cross. Moreover, because the brothers do not heed Moses and the prophets, they will not heed either someone, even if risen from the dead, who demands much more, for he is the perfect fulfillment of divine revelation.
But yes, now is the time to know and keep the Mosaic and prophetic pronouncements that forbid the exploitation and extortion of the poor. During this earthly life do we sow the seed of solidarity and abundance of the Kingdom of God as we open our hands to the destitute and see to it that no one among us is in need. Here and now is where and when we prepare for the kingdom that the King will give us as inheritance, which we do when we give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, welcome the immigrant, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit someone in prison.
And it is in this world of joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries do we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Because darkness is still part of our present experience, we light our lamp of good works now, so that our light may shine on others and we may be witnesses of our heavenly Father, who executes justice for the orphans and the widows, befriends the aliens, and commands that we invite them to our feasts, that we not violate any of their rights, that we make easy for them to get what they need to live. Though he “alone has mortality and dwells in unapproachable light,” the Lord deigns, nonetheless, to raise the needy from the dust. Witnessing to this God, we likewise witness to his Son who was made flesh and became poor, so pained was he by our collapse.
But if, on the contrary, we see an afflicted brother and are not pained by his affliction, then, as St. Vincent de Paul says, we are mere caricatures of what a Christian ought to be (Coste XII, 27). And religious vows end up being caricatures for the one who, choosing “a following of Jesus that imitates his life in obedience to the Father, poverty, community life and chastity,” refuses to be a prophet (Pope Francis). Surely, a prophet cannot do without announcing solidarity and denouncing indifference to the poor. His direct insertion into the world of the poor is more than just a fad (Pope Francis).
No, a prophet does not fail to proclaim that an integral part of the fasting that God desires is not turning our back on our own. A prophet teaches that anyone who eats and drinks lacking solidarity with the poor, such one caricatures the Eucharist and eats and drinks judgment on himself.
Ross Reyes Dizon