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Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD September 25, 2022 / 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time / C

Image source: Wikimedia Commons — The Rich Man and Lazarus by Girolamo da Ponte


Tomorrow, September 25, is National Seafarers Sunday. According to the office of the Apostleship of the Sea in Manila headed by Fr. Paulo Prigol, CS, director and chaplain, “seafarers” is a broad term which refers to people working in ships, active and retired seamen, fishermen, those waiting for maritime employment, including maritime students.

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While the Apostleship of the Sea provides primarilly spiritual comfort and assistance to seafarers, it also offers counseling and para-legal support in cases of abusive and illegal treatments, medical claims on accidents and disability in the line of duty.

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I remember the late SVD missionary Fr. Ben Prado, who was in charge of Filipino seafarers in Djakarta, Indonesia. He related to me how he, in his aged condition, would climb up the gigantic cargo or passenger ships wherein many Filipino seamen worked, and would celebrate Mass.

Part of his pastoral work was to collect the salaries of the seamen and saw to it that they reached their families back home.

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For those who wish to know more about the Apostleship of the Sea or seek help regarding problems of seafarers, contact Fr. Paulo Prigol, CS, director and AOS chaplain with office on Bonifacio Drive corner 8th St., Port Area, Manila or e-mail aosmla@info.com.ph.

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In the gospel of this 26th Sunday (read Lk 16,19-31), Jesus talks about a rich man (Dives) and a poor man (Lazarus). They live in two different worlds.

Both the rich man and Lazarus die. Their fortunes are completely reversed. Lazarus is now enjoying the higher position–he is in the “bosom of Abraham” while the rich man is suffering in eternal torment in Hades (hell).

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Note that the rich man was punished NOT because he was rich but of his callousness and insensitivity to help the needy as symbolized by the beggar Lazarus.

The danger with being rich–and this is what Christ warns against–is the excessive attachment and the selfishness that go with it. The sin of the rich was a sin of omission. So wrapped up in his flamboyant, luxurious lifestyle, he neglected and even brushed aside offering food scraps to the poor Lazarus.

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Dives’ attachment to wealth may be illustrated by the story of an elderly miser who had vast real estate holdings, and suddenly became extremely ill. His temperature soared to over 40 Celsius. A doctor was called in but after examining the patient, he said, “Madam, I must tell you that your husband is terminally ill. He cannot possibly survive. All I can suggest to you is prayer.”

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The worried husband told his wife, “Go out and find some needy person and share our wealth. Then go to church and pray that God may spare my life.”

The wife immediately went out and did everything her husband ordered. Whereupon, the patient’s condition rapidly improved and, miraculously, within days he had completely recovered.

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When the old miser heard that she had given a big sum of their money to the poor, he was angry. “Why did you do such a thing?” he bellowed. “But you yourself told me to give the money,” she countered.

To which he replied, “But with my temperature over 40 Celsius, didn’t you know I was delirious? I didn’t know what I was saying!”

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You may laugh at the answer but aren’t we like him at times? Even if we have more than enough wealth, we hold on to them very tightly.

One of the best tests of freedom from attachment is our willingness to share or part off what we have.

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CONSIDER THIS: God has been generous to you in terms of talents, intelligence, business acumen—all free gifts. Isn’t it only proper that you share your blessings with the less gifted?

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ASK YOURSELF: Am I selfish and insensitive to the plight of Lazaruzes around me? Is money all my sole concern and focal attention in life? Do I help the less fortunate in any way I can: be they house helpers, poor relatives, and charitable institutions?

Let’s remember the eternal lesson of Jesus this Sunday: “You will be punished in Hell NOT because you are rich but because you are insensitive, callous, and selfish to your less fortunate brethren.”

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