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Unmasking the terrible injustice of society PDF Print E-mail

29 September 2013: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

During your life good things came your way just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted while you are in agony.

Jesus was talking about a powerful rich man. His tunic of fine linen shows his life of luxury and he belongs to royal circles. His life is a constant feast, because he holds splendid banquets every day for the privileged living in Tiberias and Jerusalem. These are the people who possess wealth, wield power and enjoy a lavish lifestyle beyond the wildest dreams of Jesus’ followers. Very close to this rich man, lying beside the beautiful gate of his mansion there is a beggar. He has nothing except a name full of promises: ‘Lazarus’ that is ‘one helped by God’. He seems exhausted, too weak to even to ask for help. His repugnant skin makes him ritually impure and he is degraded by the contact with stray dogs. Isn’t his situation, the best sign that God has abandoned and condemned him?

Lazarus watches as the others have a feast

Jesus’ penetrating gaze unmasks the terrible injustice of that society. The powerfully rich are celebrating banquets and the oppressed, dying of hunger, belong to the same society and separated by an invisible barrier. Suddenly everything changes, Lazarus dies and is taken to the bosom of Abraham and the rich man also dies and buried with full honours and ends up in Sheol, a place of hope, where all the righteous and sinners go.

Last week Pope Francis criticised the world economic ‘money-god’ system and said that ‘people are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity but brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved’. To the ambitious bishops desiring another diocese more beautiful and wealthier, he said that it was comparable to a married man lusting after a more beautiful wife. Is there such a thing as ‘spiritual adultery’? He asked. “You decide”.