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Friends, today’s Gospel tells the story of the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, at his gate.

God is not pleased with this kind of economic inequality, and he burns with passion to set things right. Even though it makes us uncomfortable—and God knows it does, especially those of us who live in the most affluent society in the world—we can’t avoid it because it’s everywhere in the Bible.

St. Thomas Aquinas says, “We must distinguish between ownership and the use of property.” We have a right to ownership, through our hard work or inheritance. Fair enough. But with regard to the use of those things, then, says Thomas, we must always be concerned for the common good and not our own.

That’s an extraordinarily powerful claim, though it’s stated in rather sober language. Yes, you have a right to property and ownership, but when and how you use what you own is always a matter of the common good, which especially includes Lazarus at your gate: whoever is suffering and in need.