Twenty Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time

In 1950 a committee representing 17 different nations voted Ludwig Albert Schweitzer: “The man of the century”. Two years later, in 1952 Schweitzer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was a theologian, organist, musicologist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and Schweitzer has been acclaimed the world over as a multiple genius. But the most remarkable thing about him was his deep Christian faith. It was a faith that influenced even the smallest details of his life. At the age of 38 he became a fully-fledged medical doctor. At the age of 43, he left for French Equaorial Africa (now Gabon) where he opened a hospital on the edge of the jungle. He died there in 1965 at the age of 90. What motivated Albert Schweitzer to turn his back on worldly fame and wealth and work among the poorest in Africa was his meditation on today’s gospel. In today’s gospel the  rich man does not do anything worng, his downfall is what he does not do. He never noticed Lazarus. He accepted him as part of the landscape of life. It was’nt a sin of commission, but a sin of omission, not doing something he should have done. The rich man could have entered Lazarus’s lonely and desperate world and made contact with him. But he didn’t. He shut him out, not only of his palace, but also out of his mind and heart as well.  A businessman in San Antonio Texas parked his brand-new car on the street and went off to do some business. When he got back to his car, he found a young poor boy examining it with eyes full of wonder and envy. ‘Is that your car, mister?’ the boy asked. ‘Yes’, he replied. ‘It’s beautiful, how much did you pay for it?’ ‘To be honest sonny, I don’t know.’ ‘You mean you bought it, and you can’t remember what you paid for it?’ ‘Sonny, I didn’t buy it. I got a present of it from my brother.’ ’You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn’t cost you a penny?’ ‘That’s right.’ ‘I wish that I…’ The man was sure the boy was going to say, ‘I wish that I had a brother like that.’ But what he said was, ‘I wish that I could be a brother like that’. The man concluded. ‘There was I in my fancy suit, with the keys of a brand-new car in my hand, and there was this poor boy in rags. Yet the boy had more love in his heart than I had. I was so impressed that I took him and his little brother who was crippled with infantile paralysis, for a drive. The next few hours were the happiest of my life’. In our gospel story today, the rich man was suffering from the worst kind of poverty of all, poverty of the heart, and it is a poverty that a lot of people in world today suffer from. His heart was devoid of compassion and love. Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived in a world where we supported and encouraged each other instead of the bickering and begrudgery that sometimes characterises our society! The parable today is for each one of us; do we notice  the sufferings of others? Is there someone in my life, who needs my kindess?  How many people have we shut out of our hearts? People who need our time, people who need a smile or a word of encouragement, people who are neglected. Irish people are great to support the plight of poor people all over the world, we even saw this recently with our attitude towards the plight of the Ukranian people, but remember that love starts at home, my own family, my neighbours, and those in my community. It’s easy to love people who are far away, but not so easy to love those who live with us or who are next door to us. Maybe there is someone in my family or in my community that I need to reach out to and rid my heart of that poverty that the rich man was condemned for in today’s gospel.