Life is Not Fair! What Will We Do About It?
Life is Not Fair!
What Will We Do About It?
Fr Luke A. Veronis
Life is Not Fair! What Will We Do About It?
Life is unfair! We all know that. We can just look around and see how unfair it is. Sometimes we may look at others who have so much more than we do, who have better circumstances, who have better opportunities. Maybe we look at others with strong, supportive family situations and think they have such a charmed life.
Life is not fair. Of course, we can look at plenty of people who don’t have what we have, who face challenges and struggles we can’t even dream about. Just think of those living under war in Ukraine or Tigray or other places of violence. We can look at so much of what we have and find plenty who don’t have our possessions, our opportunities, the support we find in our family and friends. What about those who haven’t discovered the most precious treasure of our Orthodox Christian faith and our knowledge and relationship with God Almighty. Then for all of us who have gone to Mexico, we know how so many people live. Even after we built some families a tiny, simple home, we realize they don’t have running water and electricity and their new house is no bigger than our garage. And of course, we realize the unfairness of life even more so when we reflect how the majority of the world lives like those in Mexico!
Life is not fair. I don’t think anyone will disagree with this statement.
Our Lord Jesus clearly highlights this unfairness in today’s Gospel Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Listen to how Jesus compares two men. "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table, moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.”
Let’s take a moment to reflect on this description. A person is abundantly wealthy. He’s in the 1% of the 1%. He clothes himself in the finest fashions, spends thousands of dollars on a single suit, $500 on a pair of shoes, and his wardrobe is full of the nicest clothes money can buy. Every day he feasts. He doesn’t hesitate to go out to a nice restaurant and spent thousands of dollars, buying a $300 bottle of wine to go with his caviar. And this type of eating isn’t exceptional but a daily occurrence. Think of the extravagance, the excess, the over-the-top lifestyle.
Just recently I read about a sort of hazing tradition in the NFL for rookie players who must take out their veteran teammates to a dinner and they may have to spend $30,000 on one dinner! Imagine how absurd and crazy, and yet for many, we may simply envy the lifestyle of the rich and famous! This is the ridiculous extravagance of the rich man in the Gospel story.
Right outside the door of the rich man laid a poor man whose name is Lazarus. This man literally had nothing. It didn’t even seem that he had family or friends. He sat outside the gate of the rich man simply hoping to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. He was so sick and pathetic, that he was covered with sores and the street dogs would come up to him and lick his open wounds.
You can’t portray a sharper contrast revealing the unfairness of life. Yes, life is unfair! Quite unfair! Yet, how do we respond to the unfairness of life?Jesus shared this story not to highlight the unfairness of life but to remind and challenge His listeners to realize we have a responsibility to share our blessings with others. We are blessed so that we share our blessings with others!
It’s noteworthy that in the Gospel of Luke, right before our Lord offers this story of the Rich Man and Lazarus he tells a parable about how Dishonest Manager shrewdly manages his master’s money. He says, “Whoever is faithful with little will be faithful with much, but the one who is dishonest with little will be dishonest with much… Be careful, you cannot serve both God and wealth.”
Christ warns about the dangers of loving wealth and possessions and becoming possessed by our own possessions. Saint Paul will explain in his letters that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” This takes on deeper meaning when we reflect how the religious leaders of the day ridiculed and mocked Jesus for his simplicity. Jesus noted that they themselves were lovers of money.
All this talk about possessions precedes Jesus telling the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Christ draws our attention to the dangers of loving money and the sober responsibility that comes with having many possessions. Can you imagine what Christ would be say to us today if He compared how we live to all generations before us? Many of us in America live in a way that only the wealthiest of society ever lived throughout history. And imagine as our Lord sees what we possess, how we spend our money, how we feast sumptuously in our everyday, comfortable lifestyle, all the while ignoring the Lazaruses right outside of our own door.
I don’t mean to make us feel guilty but I do want to challenge us in our often self-centered and extravagant way of life. Yes, life is unfair but for most of us it’s unfair in favor of you and me. Simply by living in America, having all we do, and possessing the opportunities and comforts that we experience, how richly blessed are we?
Yet, what are we doing with these blessings? How do we share from our abundance with those in need? Can we live simpler and give more generously? We can criticize the Rich Man in today’s story because the pathetic figure of Lazarus is right outside his door step but how many Lazaruses do we encounter in our lives and what do we concretely do to comfort them and alleviate their struggles and pain?
We are blessed so that we bless others. God gives to us so that we can give to others. We are called to act as good and faithful stewards of all that God has first given us. Our wealth, our possessions, our money, all we have is God’s gift to us. What we do with all we have is our gift back to God. How do we use our blessings to bless others? Are we generous in sharing our blessings with those in need, with those outside our door, with the ministries and people that are reaching out to others.
Life is unfair. For most it is skewed in our favor. We don’t identify with the poor and pathetic figure of Lazarus. We are more in line with the rich man who had more than enough. Thus, we must first realize how blessed we are. We then need to be conscious and notice those around us, right in front of us, who have so much less than we do. Finally, out of the abundance of our hearts, from the incredible blessings God has bestowed on us, we are called to act as good and faithful stewards in sharing all we have with others. Our Lord wants us to share joyously, generously, faithfully.
Life is unfair. Let us not act in an unfair manner by hoarding our own blessings for ourselves. God so richly and freely gives to us. May we strive to share as lavishly on others as He does on us!
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