Just before Christmas, on the way home from paying the electricity bill, I came across a homeless lady lying in the street in the rain. A security guard was on his radio to report it and arranging for the barangay (local government unit) to see about any medical help they could arrange as motorists peered out of windows and accidently splashed her with rainwater. She regained consciousness and told a bystander that she had not eaten in a long time. Two young men helped her to her feet and onto the sidewalk and shelter near a convenience store. Someone gave her a raincoat as she was shivering while someone went to the store to get her a hot meal. Others spoke with her and waited.
Oftentimes we wait until the last minute to help and then come through and whilst that’s good what underpins the situation isn’t really.
I read the other day that, here in the Philippines, the 9 richest Billionaires own as much wealth as the poorest half (55,000,000 or 55 Million ) Filipinos. If we were to weigh in the multi-millionaires and the numerous common or garden millionaires then you get a picture of a seriously polarised and disordered society. Is this what we would expect from the only Catholic nation in Asia ?
Revisiting scriptures that talk about wealth and particularly insatiable greed and unwillingness to share can be enlightening. The man who built bigger barns to store his wealth, (Luke 12 :16-21) and of course Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16: 19-31) are two striking teachings. What is interesting is what was considered wealthy then and how we think of wealth now. The farmer building larger barns seems like ‘small potatoes’ really and perhaps although his life was taken suddenly and he lost everything in an instant, we do not hear of his eternal destiny.
For Lazarus and the rich man story though…is a bit different. Again the notion of wealth is rather subdued really. He had fine clothes, dined sumptuously every day; but it doesn’t mention the trappings of extreme or obscene wealth. No private jet, no yacht in the harbour, no 4×4 in the garage, no i-phone or offshore dollar account in Panama or Switzerland and yet his fate is sealed by his complete indifference to Lazarus. He knows he is in need, he knows he can well afford to help and does..…nothing. And such a huge price is paid for that lack of compassion, the loss of his immortal soul, for a lack of charity, unwillingness to share what God had blessed him with. Truly we have nothing that has not been given by God, however clever or hard working, it’s all a gift from God to be used in a proper manner. Lazarus is outside our front doors.
What we do to others, we do to ourselves and it must go way beyond family and friends to our true brothers and sisters, those who have no one else, that’s where you find true joy and meaning in life. There are many charities that serve the poor. Join. Give, while we still have time.