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BUT HE DID NOTHING! 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2022 (R. 1: Amos 6: 1a, 4- 7; Psalm 146: 7- 10; R. 2: 1 Timothy 6: 11- 16; Gospel: Luke 16: 19- 31) FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO

My dearly beloved in Christ, how fair is the judgement in today’s parable? The rich man went to hell fire, while Lazarus the poor man went to heaven. How fair is this judgment?

Let us reexamine the facts that are available to us. Was Lazarus a good man? What did he do? He did nothing! We are not aware of any. He did not say a word, he never lifted a finger, he never took a step, he was always sitting down, and he is still sitting down. While on earth, he sat at the entrance of the rich man’s house, now in heaven he is seated beside Abraham, and even during his passage to heaven, he was carried by the angels. He did nothing; better described as “lazy bones.” Perhaps his poverty was due to his laziness. Is Laziness now a virtue? Why did he go to heaven? What about the rich man, what did he do? He did nothing! We were not told that he stole his wealth from Lazarus, we were not told that he mistreated his servants, we were not told that he cursed, neither were we told that he swore. Can we even say that he was rough with Lazarus? If he were, Lazarus would not have remained at his door. What did he do then? He did nothing!

There is something peculiar to this parable. Jesus does not call his characters by name in his parables. He would say a certain sower went to sow; a woman lost a coin, a Pharisee and a Tax Collector went to pray, a man had two sons, etc. But in this case, he named one of his characters Lazarus. This tells us how the table will be turned in the next world. In this world, when we listen to the news, it is the rich that are named, while the poor are bundled up together as “others.” But in Jesus’ scheme of things, the poor are named while the rich are anonymous.  Unfortunately, the rich man does not seem to understand that the table has been turned. He thinks that Lazarus should be his servant to be ordered around to give him water and to go on an errand to his five brothers.

The name Lazarus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Eleazar, which means “God is my Help.” This name gives us an insight into the person of Lazarus as not just a poor man but a poor man who believed and trusted in God. The good thing about poverty is that it helps us to rely on God; to be God-confident rather than self-confident. The Book of Psalms says, “Our Help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). It also says, “Those who place their trust in God will not be put to shame” (Psalm 25: 3).

Wealth, on the contrary, gives us a false sense of security. Jesus would even warn that it will be easier for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to go to heaven (cf. Matthew 19: 23-26). One shameful aspect of wealth that is condemned by today’s first reading is complacency. Riches can make us feel very comfortable and careless about the yawning gap between the rich and the poor. The sin of the rich man in the gospel passage was that he did nothing. He was insensitive to the plight of Lazarus. The wall the rich man willingly built in this life against the poor, becomes, after his death, a chasm that no one can bridge. The time to break down barriers and build bridges is now.

My Dearly Beloved in Christ, the bad news is that the case of Lazarus and the rich man has been decided and the judgment cannot be overturned. But here is the good news: your own case has not been decided; mine too is yet to be determined. We still have the time to decide on where we want to spend our eternity; either with Lazarus or the rich man. But I don’t know how much time we have.

For the time being, how comfortable are we with the different forms of discrimination that are eating up our society? Are we less bothered because we belong to the privileged class? It may not be how much you have in your bank account; it may be that you are so likable and you have so many friends; does that make you feel less concerned about that lonely neighbor on the street who is friendless and forlorn and has no one to listen to their story? What about a situation where you are privileged to know the truth about an incidence, and you see that an innocent person has been accused and already being sentenced to prison; do you just comfortably keep quiet because the person does not go to your Church, look like you, speak like you or is not capable of rewarding you? Maybe your parent, spouse, sibling, neighbor, or a strange person offended you. Are you so comfortable about the situation because you are the righteous one, and not ready to do anything about it? Or are you bold enough to offer forgiveness even when it has not been asked of you? We have a choice to make here. Either we embrace the temporary comfort of this life and face eternal discomfort, or we welcome the temporary discomfort of this life and enjoy eternal comfort. Pope Benedict VI says, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”  Now is the time to decide!

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YOU DON’T MEAN IT! 25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C ON SEPTEMBER 18, 2022 (R. 1: Amos 8: 4-7; Psalm 113: 1-2, 4-6, 7-8; R. 2: 1 Timothy 2: 1-8; Gospel: Luke 16: 1-13) FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO

A Catholic teenage boy took his Muslim friend to Church one Sunday morning. After the Mass, he decided to give his friend a tour of the Church. At the end of the tour, they were about stepping out when the Muslim friend pointed toward the sanctuary and asked, “What is in that golden box up there?” The Catholic boy answered, “Sorry, I forgot to tell you. That is the Tabernacle. Inside it is the Blessed Sacrament, which is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the God we worship.” The Muslim boy asked, “Do you believe that is your God?” The Catholic boy confidently answered, “Sure, very well, I do believe that is my God?” The Muslim boy then said, “But I don’t believe that is your God. I don’t even believe that you believe that is your God. For if I ever get to think that my God is in that box, I would not be disrespectful in the Church the way I have seen you are. I would never like to leave the Church.”

Today’s Gospel passage raises more questions than answers. How can a dishonest steward be praised by his master? Is the charge against the steward true or false? Who is the master who commended the steward; Jesus or the rich man? The steward was praised because of what he did when he discovered that he was going to lose his job. He went to his master’s debtors and reduced the amounts on record that they owed. The one who owed one hundred measures of olive oil was told to write fifty. The one who owed one hundred kors of wheat was told to write eighty. Why did the master commend him when he cheated his master by reducing the amount owed by the debtors? There are two different ways scholars look at this. One view has it that the steward cheated his master when he asked the debtors to reduce the figures they owed. The other view has it that the steward was only forfeiting his commission when he asked the debtors to change figures; he was not cutting into his master’s wealth.

In the case of the second interpretation, landlords had their fixed amounts. Their stewards or agents were at liberty to add more numbers to the landlords’ figures, which is where they get their salary in the form of commission. So, this servant was giving up his commission to win friends when he eventually loses his job. The next question that may arise from this interpretation is, “If he did not offend the rich man by changing figures, why was he described as a dishonest steward at the end of the parable?” In answer to that I would say, he was called dishonest at the end of the parable not because of the figures he asked the debtors to change but because of whatever he did at the beginning that led to his loss of the job. 

Our take home from the parable is that there is always something good to learn from everyone and everything. Even though this steward was labeled as dishonest, we can learn from his great example of being resourceful. He was losing his job, but he did not see that as the end of life. He immediately thought about what he could do with what he had. He used the little commission he had to win friendship for the future from his master’s debtors. Rather than eat the seed he had, he planted it to yield him more fruits. He was smart to invest in friendship, yet, this friendship is earthly, which will not last forever. As Christians, we believe in heaven, we believe in eternity, we believe in God. How many temporary things are we willing to give up to gain eternal life in heaven?

Jesus says, “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” As children of light, we have something to learn from the children of this world. Even as bad as the devil is, we have something to learn from the devil, and that is perseverance. The devil does not give up. When the devil embraced the project of discouraging Jesus from doing the will of God, he expressed the quality of perseverance/persistence. After he failed in the three consecutive temptations he brought before Jesus in the wilderness; he should have given up, but he did not. He came back to tempt Jesus through Peter. Jesus recognized him and said, “Get behind me, Satan!”  At Gethsemane, he came again to suggest to Jesus to pray away the cup of suffering, but Jesus ended the prayer by submitting to God’s will. The devil came through the mouths of those who crucified Jesus and the mouth of one of the thieves urging Jesus to come down from the cross, but he would not submit. The devil still went on to suggest to Jesus that he was being abandoned by his Father. Jesus finally commended himself to the hands of his Father.

When we compare this attitude of perseverance to what we do as Christians, what happens? After praying for an intention for a few times and answers seem not to come, we give up. After confessing a particular sin and we fall into it again, we stop trying. When we come to a one-hour Mass, and it extends beyond one hour by five minutes, we stop coming to Church. We are excited about taking our children to soccer games, movies, etc., but we are too busy to bring them for religious education. When we get to sporting events or movies, we sit where we can watch everything well; we go early and stay until the end. When it comes to worship, we don’t mind going late, we can even stay outside while worship is going on, and we can leave before the end. The dishonest steward gave up his commission to win temporary friends, but we cannot give up our pride to reconcile and win back those who offend us for the sake of eternal life. After this homily, we are going to profess that we believe in God, we believe in the Catholic Church, and all she teaches; and that we believe in eternal life. However, looking at how we live our lives, can we honestly say that we mean what we claim to believe?

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

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BUT HE DID NOTHING! 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2022 (R. 1: Amos 6: 1a, 4- 7; Psalm 146: 7- 10; R. 2: 1 Timothy 6: 11- 16; Gospel: Luke 16: 19- 31) FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO

My dearly beloved in Christ, how fair is the judgement in today’s parable? The rich man went to hell fire, while Lazarus the poor man went to heaven. How fair is this judgment?

Let us reexamine the facts that are available to us. Was Lazarus a good man? What did he do? He did nothing! We are not aware of any. He did not say a word, he never lifted a finger, he never took a step, he was always sitting down, and he is still sitting down. While on earth, he sat at the entrance of the rich man’s house, now in heaven he is seated beside Abraham, and even during his passage to heaven, he was carried by the angels. He did nothing; better described as “lazy bones.” Perhaps his poverty was due to his laziness. Is Laziness now a virtue? Why did he go to heaven? What about the rich man, what did he do? He did nothing! We were not told that he stole his wealth from Lazarus, we were not told that he mistreated his servants, we were not told that he cursed, neither were we told that he swore. Can we even say that he was rough with Lazarus? If he were, Lazarus would not have remained at his door. What did he do then? He did nothing!

There is something peculiar to this parable. Jesus does not call his characters by name in his parables. He would say a certain sower went to sow; a woman lost a coin, a Pharisee and a Tax Collector went to pray, a man had two sons, etc. But in this case, he named one of his characters Lazarus. This tells us how the table will be turned in the next world. In this world, when we listen to the news, it is the rich that are named, while the poor are bundled up together as “others.” But in Jesus’ scheme of things, the poor are named while the rich are anonymous.  Unfortunately, the rich man does not seem to understand that the table has been turned. He thinks that Lazarus should be his servant to be ordered around to give him water and to go on an errand to his five brothers.

The name Lazarus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Eleazar, which means “God is my Help.” This name gives us an insight into the person of Lazarus as not just a poor man but a poor man who believed and trusted in God. The good thing about poverty is that it helps us to rely on God; to be God-confident rather than self-confident. The Book of Psalms says, “Our Help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). It also says, “Those who place their trust in God will not be put to shame” (Psalm 25: 3).

Wealth, on the contrary, gives us a false sense of security. Jesus would even warn that it will be easier for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to go to heaven (cf. Matthew 19: 23-26). One shameful aspect of wealth that is condemned by today’s first reading is complacency. Riches can make us feel very comfortable and careless about the yawning gap between the rich and the poor. The sin of the rich man in the gospel passage was that he did nothing. He was insensitive to the plight of Lazarus. The wall the rich man willingly built in this life against the poor, becomes, after his death, a chasm that no one can bridge. The time to break down barriers and build bridges is now.

My Dearly Beloved in Christ, the bad news is that the case of Lazarus and the rich man has been decided and the judgment cannot be overturned. But here is the good news: your own case has not been decided; mine too is yet to be determined. We still have the time to decide on where we want to spend our eternity; either with Lazarus or the rich man. But I don’t know how much time we have.

For the time being, how comfortable are we with the different forms of discrimination that are eating up our society? Are we less bothered because we belong to the privileged class? It may not be how much you have in your bank account; it may be that you are so likable and you have so many friends; does that make you feel less concerned about that lonely neighbor on the street who is friendless and forlorn and has no one to listen to their story? What about a situation where you are privileged to know the truth about an incidence, and you see that an innocent person has been accused and already being sentenced to prison; do you just comfortably keep quiet because the person does not go to your Church, look like you, speak like you or is not capable of rewarding you? Maybe your parent, spouse, sibling, neighbor, or a strange person offended you. Are you so comfortable about the situation because you are the righteous one, and not ready to do anything about it? Or are you bold enough to offer forgiveness even when it has not been asked of you? We have a choice to make here. Either we embrace the temporary comfort of this life and face eternal discomfort, or we welcome the temporary discomfort of this life and enjoy eternal comfort. Pope Benedict VI says, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”  Now is the time to decide!

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YOU DON’T MEAN IT! 25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C ON SEPTEMBER 18, 2022 (R. 1: Amos 8: 4-7; Psalm 113: 1-2, 4-6, 7-8; R. 2: 1 Timothy 2: 1-8; Gospel: Luke 16: 1-13) FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO

A Catholic teenage boy took his Muslim friend to Church one Sunday morning. After the Mass, he decided to give his friend a tour of the Church. At the end of the tour, they were about stepping out when the Muslim friend pointed toward the sanctuary and asked, “What is in that golden box up there?” The Catholic boy answered, “Sorry, I forgot to tell you. That is the Tabernacle. Inside it is the Blessed Sacrament, which is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the God we worship.” The Muslim boy asked, “Do you believe that is your God?” The Catholic boy confidently answered, “Sure, very well, I do believe that is my God?” The Muslim boy then said, “But I don’t believe that is your God. I don’t even believe that you believe that is your God. For if I ever get to think that my God is in that box, I would not be disrespectful in the Church the way I have seen you are. I would never like to leave the Church.”

Today’s Gospel passage raises more questions than answers. How can a dishonest steward be praised by his master? Is the charge against the steward true or false? Who is the master who commended the steward; Jesus or the rich man? The steward was praised because of what he did when he discovered that he was going to lose his job. He went to his master’s debtors and reduced the amounts on record that they owed. The one who owed one hundred measures of olive oil was told to write fifty. The one who owed one hundred kors of wheat was told to write eighty. Why did the master commend him when he cheated his master by reducing the amount owed by the debtors? There are two different ways scholars look at this. One view has it that the steward cheated his master when he asked the debtors to reduce the figures they owed. The other view has it that the steward was only forfeiting his commission when he asked the debtors to change figures; he was not cutting into his master’s wealth.

In the case of the second interpretation, landlords had their fixed amounts. Their stewards or agents were at liberty to add more numbers to the landlords’ figures, which is where they get their salary in the form of commission. So, this servant was giving up his commission to win friends when he eventually loses his job. The next question that may arise from this interpretation is, “If he did not offend the rich man by changing figures, why was he described as a dishonest steward at the end of the parable?” In answer to that I would say, he was called dishonest at the end of the parable not because of the figures he asked the debtors to change but because of whatever he did at the beginning that led to his loss of the job. 

Our take home from the parable is that there is always something good to learn from everyone and everything. Even though this steward was labeled as dishonest, we can learn from his great example of being resourceful. He was losing his job, but he did not see that as the end of life. He immediately thought about what he could do with what he had. He used the little commission he had to win friendship for the future from his master’s debtors. Rather than eat the seed he had, he planted it to yield him more fruits. He was smart to invest in friendship, yet, this friendship is earthly, which will not last forever. As Christians, we believe in heaven, we believe in eternity, we believe in God. How many temporary things are we willing to give up to gain eternal life in heaven?

Jesus says, “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” As children of light, we have something to learn from the children of this world. Even as bad as the devil is, we have something to learn from the devil, and that is perseverance. The devil does not give up. When the devil embraced the project of discouraging Jesus from doing the will of God, he expressed the quality of perseverance/persistence. After he failed in the three consecutive temptations he brought before Jesus in the wilderness; he should have given up, but he did not. He came back to tempt Jesus through Peter. Jesus recognized him and said, “Get behind me, Satan!”  At Gethsemane, he came again to suggest to Jesus to pray away the cup of suffering, but Jesus ended the prayer by submitting to God’s will. The devil came through the mouths of those who crucified Jesus and the mouth of one of the thieves urging Jesus to come down from the cross, but he would not submit. The devil still went on to suggest to Jesus that he was being abandoned by his Father. Jesus finally commended himself to the hands of his Father.

When we compare this attitude of perseverance to what we do as Christians, what happens? After praying for an intention for a few times and answers seem not to come, we give up. After confessing a particular sin and we fall into it again, we stop trying. When we come to a one-hour Mass, and it extends beyond one hour by five minutes, we stop coming to Church. We are excited about taking our children to soccer games, movies, etc., but we are too busy to bring them for religious education. When we get to sporting events or movies, we sit where we can watch everything well; we go early and stay until the end. When it comes to worship, we don’t mind going late, we can even stay outside while worship is going on, and we can leave before the end. The dishonest steward gave up his commission to win temporary friends, but we cannot give up our pride to reconcile and win back those who offend us for the sake of eternal life. After this homily, we are going to profess that we believe in God, we believe in the Catholic Church, and all she teaches; and that we believe in eternal life. However, looking at how we live our lives, can we honestly say that we mean what we claim to believe?

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

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