September 29, 2019: Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Reading: Luke 16:1-13
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.” Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.”
Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.”
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Jesus’ words paint a very clear picture. We can see the rich man in his snowy white linen and purple garments practically tripping over poor Lazarus. He perhaps pulled his fancy clothes tight around him so they wouldn’t touch! Jesus even puts in the detail about dogs licking Lazarus’ sores. The origin of this story was probably something Jesus had seen as he walked from place to place. Obviously it got to Jesus. Clearly Jesus’ sympathy is with Lazarus. The theme is clearly that God is on the side of the poor.
But it confronts us with a stark question: “Am I rich or poor?” And down deep, “How much do I care?” What actions show that I care?” Every night on TV or social media we see images: children with swollen bellies and flies all over their faces, children ripped from their parent’s arms, a mother lamenting a gunshot victim. All sorts of feelings surface: sadness, anger, powerlessness. Do we let ourselves feel those feelings, talk to our loved ones about them, talk to Jesus about them? We are blessed in many parishes to have daily Mass and Sunday gatherings where we can pour out our hearts to God about these concerns.
In whatever way you receive news each day, be aware of stories involving the “rich” and the “poor.” Try to determine how the two are interrelated and what impact you might make with a phone call or an email.