By By Rev. Fr. Rommel M. Arcilla
The Reality of Hell
posted 19-Oct-2019  ·  
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The parable did not describe that the rich man was an evil person. He was probably a prominent man in his community, enjoying maybe a powerful influence on the lives of people around him. Perhaps, he was a regular donor and very active in their synagogue. Probably, he was a righteous man, simply enjoying the fruits of what he had worked hard for. He may have thought and believed that he deserved, as well, the best place in heaven. But obviously he had it all wrong.

And so, what was the sin of the rich man, which cost him eternal damnation in that fiery furnace owned by the master of deceit and lies? We can conclude that his sin is not just an ordinary sin but a grave one. His grave sin is the sin of failure, his failure to look at Lazarus in his sorry state. The sin of the rich man was simply that he never noticed Lazarus. He just accepted him and his miserable status as a part of the landscape of life.

The sin of the rich man was that he accepted, without question and concern, the fact that Lazarus was poor and he himself was rich.

The sin of the rich man was not a sin of commission, which is, doing something he shouldn’t have done. The sin of the rich man was a sin of omission, which is, not doing something he should have done. The sin of the rich man was he adored his personal wealth more than anything else and he did not even do the least to help Lazarus in his basic needs.

Everything seemed so normal for him, given that abysmal economic gap which separated him and Lazarus. He found nothing wrong in the fact that he was enjoying all the luxuries of life, while his neighbor was living in hopeless poverty and misery. The sin of the rich man was the same that is being committed over and over these days.

These present-day rich men are the ones who are still struggling hard to enrich themselves limitlessly even at the expense of poor farmers. They are the ones in the drug trade, who will do everything even buying the (rotten) dignity of those who are in power just to be able to operate their evil deeds at the expense of the lives of those unjustly murdered. These rich men in our times are the usual and nauseating personages in our news headlines.

It is this sin (omission) that’s beginning to cause grave concern, not only because of what it is doing to the poor, but also because of what it is doing to our society. Our lack of concern for the poor is destroying, not only the poor, but also the very moral fabric of our society. Self-centeredness and lack of concern are the best formula for a soul to go straight to hell. Maybe some of are showing even now some signs that they are really destined to be part of Satan’s Cabinet. Some are starting to darken (nangitum na) even before they are welcomed into that furnace. Let us all be reminded of the reality of hell, hoping that we still possess in us that innate goodness, as people created in the image and likeness of God, and saved by the Blood of Christ.

In the light of the parable of Christ, riches and freedom mean a special responsibility. Riches and freedom create special obligation to every human person. Every human person has a dignity.

The rich man and Lazarus are both human beings, both of them equally created in the image and likeness of God, both of them equally redeemed by Christ at a great price, the price of the precious blood of Christ.

The poor of the world are our brothers and sisters. We must never be content to leave them just the crumbs of the feast. We must take of our substance, and not just of our abundance, in order to help them. We must treat them like guests at our family table.

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