Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

Rich Man - Poor Man Reflection On The Sunday Gospel With Fr. Michael Barrow, S.J.

Rich Man - Poor Man                                                                               Reflection On The Sunday Gospel With Fr. Michael Barrow, S.J.

To prepare for Sunday Mass it is a good idea to read and give thought to the readings in your missal or Bible. Here are some questions to ponder.

First Reading [Amos 6:1,4-7 ] The people in this reading are complacent and comfortable. With such people at one end of the spectrum and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta at the other, where do I come? 

Second Reading [1 Timothy 6: 11-16] Paul was appointed preacher and apostle to take the Good News to the Gentiles. How can I take Christ's message beyond the sphere of the Church?

Gospel [Luke 16: 19-31] Where would you find Lazarus today?


Last week in Holetown I witnessed a most disgraceful incident. A woman in charge of five children was feeding them with what food she had. Of the ten sandwiches she had she gave nine to one child and let the other four make do with the one remaining sandwich between them. And so she continued with the rest of the food, always giving the favoured one nine tenths of what she had. I couldn't believe it. Then I discovered that she was doing this, not literally to feed those children, but to demonstrate how things are divided across the world. Yes, that is how things stand today – putting it statistically, 90% of food and resources are enjoyed by 20% of the people.And we in Barbados are among the 20%.We tend to compare ourselves with our immediate neighbour but forget that our immediate neighbour is also among the 20%. Even the poorest people in Barbados are among the richest in the world.

In this Sunday's gospel Jesus told a cautionary tale about rich people who ignore the poor. A rich man enjoying the good life totally ignored the poor man at his doorstep. When they both died the poor man went to heaven while the rich man ended up in the fires of hell. Seeing the poor man far away in heaven he asked Abraham to send him with a drop of cold water to relieve his thirst.Notice, he didn't address the poor man himself, he didn't think of him as a person; he spoke to Abraham and asked him to be sent as a messenger. Not a person but a convenience.

So what terrible sin did the rich man commit to deserve such punishment? He didn't do anything particular, but it becomes clear in the story that all the time he could only think about himself. Jesus gave us that parable to help us to become aware of what naturally happens in ourselves if we do not take deliberate care to think of people in need. It is a natural tendency to turn in on ourselves and become bitter and envious – in other words, creating hell for ourselves.

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