Some of the modern commentators on the state of the world have the opinion that the next major war will be one between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ That is, it will not be fought on nationalistic or ideological lines but simply between the rich countries and the poor ones. Apart from whether this prognosis is true or not, the issue of the great divide between the rich and poor nations of the earth is one that needs to be addressed purely from a moral point of view.

It is not reasonable to expect that the wealth of the world will ever be perfectly evenly distributed among all the peoples on the earth! However, I think we can do a much more equitable job than we are doing at the moment. The inhuman living conditions of millions in the so-called “Third World” or “Underdeveloped Nations” are a scandal to the moral person. It just cannot be right for so many to be suffering so much while there are a relative few who live extraordinary lavish and exorbitant lifestyles. In some cases there are millions of dollars spent by thrill-seekers trying to get the latest ‘buzz’ while not far distant from the place of their escapade there are people starving or without adequate access to water or housing and sanitation. This is not to say that such a leisure activity is immoral in itself, but is it an appropriate use of money considering the present circumstances of the world.

The Old Testament prophets often cry out against the inequitable distribution of wealth in Israel and call for the rich to stop oppressing the poor and furthering their misery. Jesus echoes that call in today’s parable that has the rich man ending his life in hell whereas the poor man goes straight to heaven! The question we have to ask is where do we sit in relation to the people in the parable. More likely than not we are the relatives of the rich man who still have the opportunity to change our ways and so avoid eternal punishment. The next question is whether or not we will have the courage to do what is necessary to accomplish this end!

This is not a decision we can afford to take lightly as the consequences that ride on it are eternal! The parable clearly indicates this to be the case. Let us pray for the grace to examine this issue closely in our lives.

How clear is my conscience as regards the sufferings of others in my own country or even in other countries of the world. How do I perceive my responsibility for those who suffer so much?

Holy Spirit, help me to open my heart to those who suffer around me. Teach me how to empathize with their problems and show me how I can be a help to alleviate their sufferings even if it is only a little bit. I also pray for a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources and goods.