We know the parable. An unconcerned rich man who «feasts magnificently», far from the suffering of the rest, and a poor beggar to whom «no one gives anything». Two people separated by an abysm of selfishness and lack of solidarity, who according to Jesus can make that abysm last for all eternity.
Let’s penetrate some into Jesus’ thinking. The rich man of the parable isn’t described as an exploiter who oppresses his servants without scruple. That’s not his sin. The rich man is simply condemned because he unconcernedly enjoys his wealth without coming close to the poor Lazarus.
This is Jesus’ deep conviction. When wealth is «benefit exclusive of abundance», it doesn’t help the person grow, but dehumanizes that person, since it’s making them indifferent and out of solidarity in the face of someone else’s misery.
Unemployment is bringing about the rise of a new classism among us. The class of us who have work, and the class of those who don’t have it. We who can keep increasing our well-being and those who are getting poorer. We who demand more and more payment and some contracts more and more advantageous, and those who can’t «demand» anything.
The parable is a challenge to our satisfied life. Can we keep organizing our «party weekends» and keep happily enjoying our well-being, when the ghost of poverty is now threatening many households?
Our great sin is indifference. Unemployment has become something so «normal and day-to-day» that it no longer scandalizes or wounds us much. Each one of us closes ourselves into «our life» and we stay blind and insensitive in the face of the frustration, the family crisis, the insecurity and the despair of these men and women.
Unemployment isn’t just a phenomenon that reflects the failure of a radically unjust socio-economic system. Unemployment is concrete persons who right now need the help of those of us who enjoy the security of work. We will take concrete steps of solidarity if we dare to respond to these questions: Do we really need all that we buy? When does our need end and our whims start? How can we help those without employment?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf