Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A Different Sort of Cultural Divide

The Late Queen Elizabeth was farewelled with much pomp and ceremony, rightly fitting, especially for a long reigned monarch.  One of the highlights from the funeral day was the cultural and religious diversity of the dignitaries and the congregation.  What a harmony of the demography! 

Incidentally, this weekend is Multicultural Day, which is named Harmony Day by the government and Migration & Refugee Day by the church.  According to the minister for multicultural affairs, Alex Hawke, “What makes us so successful as a community is how we embrace the diverse cultures and customs of people from around the world who call Australia home.”  Inspirational stories of success like that of Dami Im, a little Korean girl arriving in Australia and now a celebrated song writer and singer, is celebrated as the soul of the Multicultural Day.

But there is another kind of cultural diversity which the Gospel today calls our attention to. In the gospel story, there was a rich man who enjoyed himself.  He did not intend any harm to anybody.  If so, is there anything wrong with a law abiding rich man enjoying himself?  Normally not.  But Jesus makes a point.  There was a cultural divide which the rich man failed to see.  There was a ‘Lazarus’ at his gate in an abject situation, licked by the stray dogs.  His name “Lazarus” meant “God has helped”, and in his earthly life nobody else helped him.  The lack of harmony between the rich man and Lazarus, though unintentional, turned out to be of terrible consequence to the rich man.  The culture of self-indulgence by the rich man could no way harmonise with the abject culture of Lazarus.  In this cultural divide, what is required is an active conversion.  You may be at the high end of the society.  But for the joy of eternal life, you need to turn away from your self-indulgence and embrace the Gospel path of compassion. Know that there are ‘Lazarus’ at your gate who have God on their side.  When you lock out the miserable and the needy you are locking out God’s Kingdom in effect.  The chasm between the Kingdom of God and your lifestyle is of your own making.