Lenten Journal – Day 16: Being Poor

Luke 16:20 – “And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,”

I have known what it was like to be poor; going for days without proper food. We used to call it, “forced fasting.” I remember how I would climb a fruit tree, just to have something that would satisfy my hunger. And I cheated, lied, borrowed money and made promises which I didn’t intend to keep, and the list goes on. I did all sorts of things just to be able to survive. Those days were gone now. It happened decades ago. Looking back, I could see that I was not really that poor compared to the poorest of the poorest. Of course, if I would compare my life with the rich people, then I could say that I am poor. But there are lots of things that I have been blessed with; good things like family, friends, a home, clothes to wear, good health, an education, clean water and so on. There are those who are poorer than me, who lack these common basic needs. I think about the homeless, the refugees, the orphans, etc. Maybe God didn’t make me a millionaire, but the call to help the poor is still valid and applicable for me.

In today’s Gospel reading, it doesn’t say anything about what was the rich man’s sin, not directly actually. The rich man was not harsh nor treated Lazarus with disdain or repulsiveness. His sin was not something he did but something he didn’t do. He was aware about Lazarus. But what did he do to help him? I, too, fall on that sin of omission. When I see a homeless or marginalized, sometimes I intentionally go another way around. I would try to avoid them. I fear them, as if being poor and homeless is contagious. I rationalized by saying to myself that it was their own fault; and that I have enough problems to deal with on my own.

Why am I hearing some roosters crowing?

God made me go through the experience of being poor  so that I could be more understanding and compassionate towards the poor people. Without learning the lessons in life, without growing in wisdom, compassion and love….. I become… I am the poorest among the poorest of all.

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