Lk 16:19-31 From Fair to Unfair

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
 (Click here for readings)

Jesus said to the Pharisees:  “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.  And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.”

The founders of Communism were all atheists.  They believed Capitalism was held in place by religion; for without religion, and the hope of heaven, Capitalism could never survive.  The masses would not allow it to survive!  As Karl Marx once wrote, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.  The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.”  Although he states that religion is “the heart of a heartless world,” he makes it clear that religion is a failed heart.  Communism and atheism were the answers.  Hmmm.

In his letter to Timothy, St. Paul wrote: “Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment.  Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life.” 

From all that I have read, religion (Judism, Christianity and Islam) appears to serve more like a warning to the powerful and rich rather than an opiate for the poor and destitute.  But when all is said and done, The Good News is a message of God’s love:  to love God above all things and to love thy neighbor, even thy enemy, above thyself.  This is not fair!

A rich man who dressed in purple garments.  After thousands and thousands of years, you would think by now we would have solved the problem of material poverty, or that it would be considered as much of a national disgrace as slavery or racial discrimination.  Apparently, it is not.   It is still very much tolerated.  

You would think by now, after so many millennia, the tragedy of war would be something relegated to the past.  It obviously is not.  In fact, its execution still generates trillions of dollars worth of business and wealth, even at the expense of priceless lives.

Like so many things, the problem with the “War on Poverty” and the “War on War” is rooted in our deliberate misrepresentation of humanity and are all too frequent cry for justice. 

Humanity.  I can’t stand it when people claim that Hitler or Stalin acted like an animals.  They didn’t.  Animals do not experiment on others or torture others, and they definitely do not discriminate against others based on race or religion.  No, Hitler and Stalin did not act like animals, they acted like human beings:  rational, irrational and emotional.  I can’t even say they acted like barbarians!  Both men were excellent public speakers.  They both dressed well and were well-mannered.  And from all I can tell, they always treated their guests graciously. 

They weren’t loons or insane, either.  Apparently, they loved their friends and hated their enemies.  What’s so crazy about that? They did what they did to get what they wanted.  They intentionally deceived world leaders, such like Chamberlain, and their people(maybe they wanted to be deceived).  In the end, they held millions of people hostage for years.  

Now when it comes to Hitler, we must admit he grew up in Austria and Germany, two of the most civilized nations in the world. He was not brought up in a jungle by wild animals but in the land of Mozart, Beethoven, Kant and Einstein. 

So why do we call them animals?  I believe it is to hide the fact that they were humans.  It’s meant to protect our minds from the obvious, the fact that Being a human being isn’t good enough anymore.  It won’t cut it.  We can’t rely on it.  We all need to evolve into something greater than human.   

Jesus invites us to be more like him.

Justice is fair, but not beautiful.  Are rich people bad people?  Of course not.  Most of them made their wealth the honest way:  they worked hard and were very creative.  I’m not about to say they don’t deserve what they have.  What’s fair is fair:  they made it and we bought it.  That’s fair, and let’s admit it:  most of us have given them the money they now have.

As you can see, justice may be fair, but it is not beautiful.  What is beautiful is love, and love is not fair, at least not Christ’s love.

The ways of the Lord are unfair (Ezek. 18:25).  The rich man botched up God’s final test not because he was unfair to Lazarus but because he was fair and just to him.  He left him alone.  The Lord tells his listeners that the rich man would often walk by Lazarus, who sat near to his door, day and night.

It isn’t enough that we don’t kill anyone.  That’s fair!  It’s absolutely necessary that we start saving people.  That’s unfair!

Justice is fair, but it is not beautiful.  Christian love is entirely unfair, and remarkably beautiful. 

Love your neighbors is fair.  Hate your enemies is fair.  Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you is unfair!  But when it happens, it is stunning.  Holy.  It is transformative.  It is revolutionary and evolutionary:  from human being to Child of God. (0)

Fr. Alfonse (1044 Posts)

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