Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 25, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings will challenge us in ways we might rather not hear.
In our first reading, feisty Amos lambastes the Israelites for their sumptuous lifestyle which is indifferent to the plight of those who are poor. He calls them “complacent”, “at ease” in their prosperous, privileged existence, a condition that has numbed them to the harrowing inequities from which others suffer.
Woe to the complacent in Zion!Amos 6:4-5
Lying upon beds of ivory,
stretched comfortably on their couches,
they eat lambs taken from the flock,
and calves from the stall!
In our second reading, Paul gives a final, impassioned charge to his dear protégé Timothy. He tells him not just to avoid, but to flee such complacency and the greedy materialism which feeds it. He outlines the elements of a Christian life, enjoining Timothy to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness”.
Paul gives Timothy the key to true Christian life:
Keep the commandment without stain or reproach …
…. “the commandment” being to love God above all, and love neighbor as self.
Our Gospel is, perhaps painfully, familiar to all of us – the story of Lazarus and Dives. It is a parable which puts the economic divide under the crystalline light of the Gospel, challenging us as to where we fit in it.
Most of us like comfort. We would rather be “haves” than “have nots”. But we struggle within our comfortable lives to discern our responsibility for others. We’re certainly not intentionally hard-hearted, “lying on ivory couches” and “drinking wine from bowls” while modern day Lazarus languishes right beside us.
We do try, in many ways, to respond to the call for charity and service. But don’t we still measure ourselves after hearing this Gospel? Don’t we still worry about any “Lazarus” unnoticed at our door?
Amos, Paul, and Jesus are charging us – just as they charged their immediate listeners – to live a life based in Biblical and Gospel justice. Justice seeks fullness of life for all the community. Jesus teaches us that “the community” is all Creation, and that how we treat the community is how we treat him.
Every day we might remind ourselves that, however hard we try, Christian love does not allow us to say, “It is enough”. We must keep on peeling away any indifference or blindness we have to the injustices of our culture and times, our economic and political systems. And we too must flee them, running toward justice, righteousness, and mercy.
We must ask ourselves this hard question:
Does my “wealth”
– however large or small,
material or immaterial-
nourish the community or only consume it?
Poetry: Regret – Robert William Service
It's not for laws I've broken
That bitter tears I've wept,
But solemn vows I've spoken
And promises unkept;
It's not for sins committed
My heart is full of rue,
but gentle acts omitted,
Kind deeds I did not do.
I have outlived the blindness,
The selfishness of youth;
The canker of unkindness,
The cruelty of truth;
The searing hurt of rudeness .
By mercies great and small,
I've come to reckon goodness
The greatest gift of all.
Let us be helpful ever
to those who are in need,
And each new day endeavor
To do some gentle deed;
For faults beyond our grieving,
What kindliness atone;
On earth by love achieving
A Heaven of our own.
Music: Five Variants of Dives & Lazarus – Ralph Vaughn Williams’s beautiful interpretation of the folk song “Dives and Lazarus”.
2 thoughts on “Shun Indifference!”
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Welcome to Lavish Mercy, Thérèse!❤️🙏