The Rich Man’s Sin of Omission

Oct 1, 2019

Gospel Reflection, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
AM 6:1a,4-7/PS 146:7,8-9 1b/1 TM 6:11-16/LK 16:19-31


The Rich Man’s Sin of Omission

 The story of the rich man and Lazarus is a shocking story.  It is one that we should not be too quick to say is only a parable.  In our world today, there are many “Lazaruses”, hungry and full of pains – the pains of life, if not of body.  In our country, they do not lie in front of the door because our doors are more subtle.  Yet, they are just as much in front of our door with loneliness, spiritual need, and material need.

Notice in the story how the rich man committed no offense.  Rather, his sin was one of omission.  Often, sins of omission do not occur “with full knowledge” or even with “deliberate consent,’ but rather out of carelessness or self-centeredness, which blinds a person to his neighbor’s need.  The rich man, as he ate sumptuously, had grown accustomed to seeing Lazarus there, and his wealth and comfortable life had made him insensitive to the suffering of his fellow man. 

Our Catechism says of sins of omission, “Mortal sin…also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice.  Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase the voluntary character of a sin” (CCC 1859).  Failure to perform works of mercy results from a hardening of the heart.  And if our hearts are hardened against our neighbor, we have rebelled against God, regardless of how much we go to church and say our prayers.  Yet, someone whose heart is not shut off from his neighbor’s need is close to God, even if he considers himself to be an atheist and professes to be one.  Jesus will be able to help this one reach his true goal of heaven, not hell, which he may not know of or believe in yet.

 Father Tony