5th Sunday of Luke - The crumbs falling from our table
Rich man have turned poor and gone hungry, but those who seek the Lord shall not be deprived from all which is good (Hymn at the Blessing of the Loaves)
We live probably in one of the richest countries in the world; a country that many other nations regard with hope. Hope in a better life, hope in satisfying the hunger that affects close to a billion people worldwide. Like poor Lazarus today these hungry people are willing to accept anything, even the crumbs that fell from our table. However, despite the odds almost 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year. Year after year 45 billion dollars go to in to the garbage bin and fill the waste lands. More than this 15% of the food Americans waste is good for consumption and well within the expiration range. A strange paradox
The Gospel today speaks about this in similar terms. We see the rich man enjoying a good life in his nice clothes and beautiful environment. And in his paradise he fails to observe that a poor man. Lazarus lies at his doorsteps, hungry and miserable. He doesn't even see him, although seems impossible not to see somebody that lies at your door.
The Gospel doesn't say much about Lazarus other that he was poor. He was so miserable that not only he did not have food, but he became food himself for the dogs that were licking his wounds. What can be worse than this. Add to this the fact that every day he sees abundance in the lifestyle of the rich man, and like a thirsty man sitting at the well he cannot quench his thirst. We do not know much about Lazarus life, but we know that for enduring the sufferings in this world, and through this paying his debt of sin, when he dies he goes into the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man on the other hand doesn't have a name. He can be anybody that behaves in a similar fashion. He enjoys life to its fullness and does not care what's going on around him. In his self sufficiency and self indulgence he is the only thing that matters. But, as all in the end he dies. About this the Gospel only says he died and he was buried. No other details, no bosom of Abraham in the heavens, but his direction is fundamentally opposite, he goes down, he goes toward suffering.
So let us recap: Lazarus lives a poor life on earth, suffers and is miserable and at death he goes in the bosom of Abraham. The anonymous rich man that enjoyed all his life from the riches and pleasures of the world dies and goes into suffering.
Death is the moment of truth my beloved, it is the moment when, says John Chrysostom: "the play ends and the masks will be thrown away, when everyone will be inquired according to his works - not everyone according his riches, not everyone according to his rank, [...] but everyone according with his actions [...] then the true poor man and the true rich man will be revealed"
Life is a gigantic play and everyone plays a role, according to our will. But the moment of truth will reveal who we really are without escape. And will judge us according to what we did not who we pretended to be. We pretend to be Christians but we pray scarcely, come to Church only from time to time and generally late, but expect everything from God. We pretend to help the poor but we only choose to give away the smallest piece from our pockets. We claim we love our environment and we drive the biggest trucks in the world. And I can go on and one
The truth is we live in world with split personality, a world with bipolar disorder. We lie to ourselves we are something but in fact we behave like someone else. This, dear brothers, does not lead to anything good. Because the end of the play is here and we're going to end up like the rich man today begging for the mercy of God and nothing could be done for our tormented souls. We'll long like Lazarus for a drop of water but no one will be able to cross the depths of the trenches we dug ourselves between us and God using the shovel of sin.
We'll realize then what we have done but it will be too late. It will be too late to remember the Scriptures, the teachings of the Church, the sermons of our priests. That time is now, today, this very second. Our lives can be changed and turned around whenever we want. A father of the Church was saying that a man can be saved from morning till dawn if he wants to. We saw the thief on the cross, we saw Mary Magdalene, they realized who they really were, repented and became something else. They became themselves, as they were made at the beginning, in the image of God, icons of the Holy Trinity.
We all have this potential in us, but we need to remember now about the Scriptures and about the Church and about the Christian life. If we do not have these things with us now later they will be of no use, if we don't act now later will be too late.
Rich man and poor man, good man and bad man are bond to live together in this world so they can learn from each other, and using each other as a mirror to see in their own reflection their true self. A rich man should see in a poor man the fact that he should be more generous. A poor man should see in a rich man the promise of the kingdom of heaven. A good man will be a permanent testimony against his bad deeds and a bad man will be a warning toward the eternal punishment.
You see, riches are not what keeps us from going to heaven, but our inability to share: to share our financials, to share our time, to share our talents, to share the gifts that God has given to all of us: free of charge. And we cling finger and nails to these riches which are ours and don't want to share. But life is about sharing. I give you something and you give me something. Through this exchange we express our love. The "things" of this world that we exchange become bridges between us and love crosses them back and forth. But if we chose not to return the gifts they become walls, walls that box each one of us in our own cells, locked for life in self sufficiency and hate.
Let us therefore learn to share the gifts we were given from God so they fulfill the purpose they were given from the beginning: assist us in the way to salvation together with all our brothers. Only in this way we all become good stewards of the Lord, administering with responsibility all the good things bestowed upon us. We should offer our lives as a gift to God, as we always say during the Liturgy: "Your gifts from your own gifts in all and for all!" Amin
 Samana Siddiqi, Statistics on poverty & food wastage in America http://www.soundvision.com/Info/poor/statistics.asp (Accessesd at 11/3/2007)