Refusing to Share with Others God’s Blessing
Refusing A Share in God’s Kingdom
(see Lk 16:19-31)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Gospel story about the rich man and Lazarus tells us the reality of today’s society where the gap between the rich and the poor gets bigger and bigger to the point that it is impossible for people at the one end to reach those at the other.
Reading the story in details and meditating carefully on it, we come to know the reason why the rich man was in torment in the netherworld. It is not simply because he was rich. to be rich is not a sin at all. To have possessions, to accumulate properties, to enjoy comforts and to spend your money on beautiful dress and delicious food is not a sin either. It is absolutely fair and legal for you to eat the bread which you earn from your hard and honest labor. It is absolutely fair and legal, too, for you to spend the money which you inherit from your parents.
The right to private property is natural. The Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 29, reads: “God also said, ‘See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food.’” Put it in short, the earth and its natural riches are free gifts from God, the Father of all, given to all peoples for their common good and for their service of God and of neighbor. Man needs enough food and drink to conduct a decent life. To earn a living, therefore, man needs the means for their work. To farmers, land is the means for their survival. To fishermen, the clean and well-preserved sea environment is the vital means for their life and the life of their children.
Recognition of and respect for the right to private property of every citizen, therefore, should be the obligation of all civilized people, in particular those in public positions. Violation of the right to private property is obviously a crime against humanity and deprivation of the right to private property is a sin against God the Creator Who made man in His image and gave man the use of the resources of the earth.
Back to the story of the rich man to see why he committed sin while using his property. The Gospel clearly reported that he “dressed in purple garment and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day” but ignoring the presence of his poor neighbor, “lying at his door”, hungry and “covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.”
It is not a crime to have property which you earn from your honest work. It is not a sin to enjoy the comfort of dress, food and drink which you buy from your clean money.
But to become too selfish to share your dress, food and drink with your friend is a sin because you refuse your obligation to recognize God’s Holy Will that natural resources are meant for all people.
But to become indifferent to the needs of your neighbor and blinded to the suffering of your friend is undeniably a serious crime because the riches which God gave you are intended to make you more and fully human with a loving and caring heart, not to turn you into a heartless and insensitive person.
The Christian moral teaching on the spirit of poverty and the control of greed for money and power is by no means hostile to legal and honest riches but it is rather a timely and helpful warning of the danger of the misuse of money and power.
Refusing to share with others God’s blessing is tantamount to refusing a share in God’s Kingdom.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.