Many years ago there was a severe drought in Southeast Missouri. A stingy farmer, hoping for rain, put a dime in the collection. A few days later there was a gully washer resulting in flash flooding. Next Sunday the farmer told the pastor: “I gave too much. A nickel would have been plenty!”
On the contrary, today’s Gospel condemns stinginess and teaches that generosity is necessary for salvation. The rich man ended up in hell, not because he was rich, but because he was selfishly stingy. He knew the name of the starving beggar at his door, but ignored his needs.
Lazarus would have been happy with table scraps, but the rich man was so self-centered that he didn’t even share his garbage. Only when he ended up in hell did he think about others, wanting Lazarus to do for him what he hadn’t done for Lazarus. He thought about his five brothers too, but they too were so selfish they wouldn’t listen to Moses, or even to one who rose from the dead.
Jesus is that One who rose from the dead. He asks us to be mindful of the poor. Whatever we do for others, we do for him. We might feel paralyzed by the countless poor who need assistance. Well, we can’t end the world’s poverty, but we can do our part. We can be generous to parish, diocesan, and national collections. We can help the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and bring groceries for the parish food bank. We can invite a lonely neighbor to dinner. We can’t do everything, but we can do something!
The farmer in Southeast Missouri gave a dime. The rich man gave nothing. We should do better. Our Blessed Mother says in her Magnificat that God lifts up the poor. Let’s lift up Jesus in the poor, and he will lift us up to heaven. There we will be, like Lazarus, at the side of Abraham.