Amos 6:1,4-7, 1 Timothy 6:11-16, Luke 16:19-31
The Sin of Total Neglect
To neglect something or somebody means to give little attention or respect to something. To give something or somebody little or no attention.
It means to disregard a person or things. It means to leave everything undone or unattended, especially through carelessness.
To neglect could also mean a sinful failure to perform a good action. It is a sin committed by willingly not performing a certain action that will jeopardize the good of the people or willfully paying little attention to something that will benefit others and advertently allowing others to suffer because of your negligence.
This is what the church calls the sin of omission. In today’s readings, God is also telling us that He is also interested in the good things we willfully neglect.
God also frowns at those attitudes when we intentionally neglect to do the good things we ought to do, which in turn comes back to affect a vast number of people. The Sin of Neglect is also as serious as the sin of commission.
When we read the gospel and the first reading, we may only be thinking of helping the needy and the poor, No. It goes beyond that. Helping the poor and the needy is only one part of this.
The point of today’s readings is that there are good things God always expects us to do, hence it becomes a sin when we refuse or willingly neglect to do them.
Therefore, the sin of total neglect is not only neglecting to help the poor, it is a sin we commit when we neglect to do what is right or good when we know it is right to do them.
It is when we turn a blind eye to the good things we are supposed to do. Let us take the readings gradually in a step-by-step analysis.
Jesus and the Pharisees.
In today’s reflection, we have to start from the gospel, and then apply the first and the second reading. In the gospel readings, Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
It is a story that we widely know, so what we have to do is to go into detail and explain it bit by bit. Before we analyze these readings we have to truly understand the reason for the story.
1. Firstly, this story by Jesus was directed to the Pharisees. If you read the gospel of last Sunday, you will understand that it was directed to the disciples of Jesus Christ. Now in today’s gospel, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, hence each statement that Jesus says to anyone has a reason for that.
2. In many places in the bible, Jesus criticizes them for always taking the place of honour at banquets, for wearing ostentatious clothing, and for encouraging people to call them rabbi.
He berates them always for seeking outer relevance instead of the inner self. They love to show off to appear great but lack compassion, pity, love and mercy. They are only interested in honour but neglect to show compassion.
3. For example in Matthew 23:23, Jesus says to them “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices. mint, dill and cumin.
But you have neglected the more important matters of the law, justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former”.
Therefore, the story today is an indirect way Jesus is telling the Pharisees that the mercy and compassion they neglect to do will be a judgement against them on the last day. Therefore, their position is meant to help and not to show off.
4. In essence, when God blesses you, what you do with your blessings can either make or mar you. Let us not neglect to do the right things with what God has given us. It can be your position, wealth, gifts, talents, life, etc.
Therefore, Jesus is asking the Pharisees that their outward religion must also have a lasting inward reality and impact. Therefore, who we are as Christians is not only by fasting and praying but by the lives we have touched and impacted positively.
The rich man failed to do the right thing with his position, we were not told if he committed any sin. But he was punished because of the sin of total neglect.
The Rich Man and Finest Linen.
In the gospel, Jesus begins the story with a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linens and hence feast magnificently every day. Remember that this is addressed to the Pharisees.
Remember also that in Matthew 23:5 Jesus berates them for making broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues. In essence, they also wear fine linens and love places of honour.
2. This regalia that Jesus talks about here is like their identity. It represents who they are, their identity, positions etc. From Jesus’ illustration, the rich man is in a good place and condition.
In the same way, let us not read this reflection and start to point accusing fingers at anyone. We are all involved in this. There is also something that you are blessed with. It could be the type of life that you live, positions, wealth, gifts etc. God has given them to you for a purpose.
3. The Pharisees represent the rich man here because of what their positions represent. We are also rich in our different fields.
So, the first thing that Jesus did today is to tell us how positioned and fine the rich man looks, and the first task we have to truly discover in ourselves is how rich we are in God’s presence.
God has placed us already. Therefore, we come to terms with this and we then understand that what we have is given to us to serve God’s purpose on earth. We do not neglect these sacred obligations.
The Man at the Gate.
Secondly, Jesus tells us the story of the man at the gate. In His description of this man, Jesus says that 1. He is poor.
2. He called His name Lazarus which means “God is my helper”
3. Then Jesus says that this man is covered with sores.
4. Jesus says that he longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores.
The man at the gate is not far from the rich man. The name that Jesus chooses for this man is Lazarus which means “God is my helper” and in His description, Jesus says that this man was filled with sores.
In essence, He is hungry, full of pains, and wounds. He is deserted, forlorn and abandoned. What we have to know here is that both the rich man and the man at the gate are symbolic.
5. Why did Jesus choose the name Lazarus for this man? The man represents those who see God as their only helper. They are those whose hope is on God. They are spiritually hungry but abandoned by the leaders who are supposed to fill their hunger.
In essence, Jesus is referring to the Pharisees who represent the rich man and the people who are already overburdened by their laws.
Jesus is not in any way extolling poverty no, rather Jesus is letting the Pharisees know that they are neglecting these people who are spiritually hungry, the people who only see God as their helper.
They pay a blind eye to these people who come to them seeking solace, comfort, and physical and spiritual nourishment from them. These people are covered with sores, yet they paid a blind eye to them.
5. In the same way in our day-to-day lives, we encounter people whose lives are covered with stabs and wounds. We encounter people who live hopelessly.
They only see God as their helper, they are full of pain and long for our attention and comfort, yet we pay a blind eye to them. This is a sin of total neglect.
6. It is a sin of total neglect to overlook those who are spiritually hungry. It is a sin of neglect to pay a blind eye to people who long for our prayers, comfort, and encouragement.
Also, it is a sin of total neglect when we know that we are gifted to these, yet we do not do them. We become then like the servant in the parable of the talents who buried his talents.
7. Therefore, the man at the gate could be anyone. It is not only the needy. It could be that person begging for your forgiveness which you blocked your heart and neglected.
The man at the gate could be your family that needs peace. Your family is filled with wounds, sores, and problems everywhere, yet you pay a blind eye to it.
It could be that little girl or boy who comes to you for help and direction but instead of doing that, we mislead him or her.
Also, the man at the gate can be the sick, poor, the suffering, the depressed and the forgotten. We abandon them because they are nobody.
They are those people whose lives are filled with wounds, but instead of being solace to them, we make caricatures of them.
7. For the man at the gate, only the dog was licking his wounds. Licking wounds does not necessarily mean that the dog was hungry and therefore it was satisfying his hunger, no.
The dog may still be licking the wounds out of love and hence trying to provide comfort to the man at the gate, Lazarus.
In essence, what a human being could not do, an animal was doing that. Therefore, the dog was filling the gap. Jesus tells this also to let us know the sorry state of the man at the gate. He was neglected by a human but remembered by a dog.
In essence, the heart of man is filled with hatred, evil and jealousy. He does not care about the plight of another. Instead of bringing you up, they aim to bring you down. Therefore, if you are passing it, you may find love, where you do not even expect.
A dog came to lick the sores of the man at the gate. Sometimes the people you do not even expect will be the ones to lick, clean and bandage your word.
The Rich Man and Lazarus at the End.
According to Jesus, in the end, the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried. Then the rich man was tormented in hades and Lazarus was enjoying eternal bliss.
Even when the rich man pleads with Abraham to ask Lazarus to just dip the tip of his finger in water, Abraham replied to him that such could not be possible because of the great division between them, The points we have to derive here:
1. Just as both the rich man and the man at the gate, one day died, will also be the way we all must die one day. God has not and did not give anyone assurance of living in the world forever and ever.
Death is what awaits all of us both the rich and the poor, both those who kill and those who are killed, both those enjoying positions and those who are not. Therefore, destiny awaits all of us.
This is the reason we have to tread with caution. The sin of total neglect is also when we know about these and yet we harden our hearts.
2. Secondly whatever we have on earth, and whatever positions we have will not be the thing that will save us. What we save are the souls we saved. It is not the souls we have neglected.
3. We commit the sin of total neglect when We also see souls seeking God, spiritually hungry, some of them suffering and passing through pains, covered with sores. We see these and pay a blind eye to them.
The sin of total neglect can also be applied to our spiritual lives. When we see that we are going down spiritually and our souls are suffering, we pay a blind eye to it and allow our souls to be darkened in sin.
The sin of total neglect can also be applied when you refuse to save lives or do your duties and responsibilities as workers which in turn affect and destroy lives.
Also, the sin of total neglect can be applied to all political leaders, who use their positions to further the sufferings of the people instead of alleviating their pains. We are all guilty of the sin of total neglect.
4. Therefore, Do not neglect your duty
Don’t neglect those people suffering, the orphan, the forgotten and depressed
Do not neglect to be of good service to the people you lead
Do not neglect the yearnings of the poor
Do not neglect the people wallowing in sin
Do not neglect those who ask you for forgiveness
Do not neglect the poor around you
Do not neglect the sick around you
Do not neglect to forgive
Do not neglect to give
Do not neglect to feed the crowd who are spiritually hungry and awaiting your food. And finally
Do not neglect your spiritual life
1. Therefore, it is not all about answering a Christian or Catholic. We have to live it out. James 2:14-20 writes
“How does it help brothers when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith brings salvation? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters needs clothes and has not enough food to live on and one of you says to them ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?”
James says that it is true that we believe in God, that is good enough, but even the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Therefore, faith without good works is very useless.
2. Also, we have to note that God frowns at any ill-treatment meted out on the poor, the orphans, the needy and the suffering. In the first reading, God blows woe to those who are living in luxury but they do not care about the plight of the people.
Amos says that they are only interested in inventing new instruments of music like David, drinking wine with the bow, and using the finest oil for anointing themselves, but do not care about the ruin of Joseph. They do not care about the lives of other people.
In essence, God wants us to also think of the person who is suffering and dying while we are enjoying it. To enjoy your sweat is not bad, but God wants you also to remember that family that has nothing.
He wants to bring solace to those people whose hope has faded. As you enjoy your lives, remember that there are people who cannot boast of one square meal. Jesus says that we remember them.
3. This parable sends us the message that worldly and earthly possessions are of no benefit in the afterlife. Those who have suffered on Earth for the sake of the gospel will receive their reward at last.
Our wealth, fine cars, fine houses, connections, political posts etc cannot save us on the last day. It means that whatever we have is temporary and no one knows what tomorrow would bring.
What will save us is the souls we touch while we are living. It is what we do with the blessings that God has given us. Therefore, we have to dedicate ourselves to God
4. Finally, as someone who dedicates himself to God, Saint Paul encourages us in the second reading that we must aim to be saintly. Therefore, we must not neglect our spiritual lives.
We must be filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Hence, we have to fight the good fight of the faith and win for ourselves eternal life, which was deprived of the rich man.
Paul describes this eternal home as a home in inaccessible light, that no man has seen. Let us be willing to seek this through the good things that we do presently.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to live the way He desires. Amen