(September 29, 2019 Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Fr. Matt’s Corner: . . There was a rich man. . .
Greetings to you, my dear friends in Christ. The fall colors are beginning to show forth their brilliance, the night stars have been shining radiantly, and the Packers have been playing flawlessly (enough). So now Jesus asks us: and what about you?
But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. St. Paul urges Timothy and us to get moving! Pursue! Compete! Lay hold of eternal life! That certainly echoes the sentiments of the Prophet Amos: Thus says the LORD the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches. So what are we to do? What is this action that God is calling for?
I think Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus would be a good place to begin. The message here is one that permeates throughout all of God’s Word: the great reversal revealed the Kingdom of God. It’s the message of creation out of nothingness; it’s the message of the Beatitudes; it’s the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus – it’s the message of hope for the downtrodden and forgotten. There was a rich man who was comfortable with his life and his religion – dressing in fine linens and dining sumptuously each day. He was comfortable. He had worked hard. He was comfortable. He believed in himself. He was comfortable. He was blind! 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. It seems that the rich man didn’t even notice Lazarus; he paid more heed to the dogs that ate his scraps than to the man suffering at his doorstep. Yet, we see what happens in Jesus’ parable … Larazus would be blessed in the end; while the rich man would suffer torment in eternity.
So, what’s that got to do with us? Of the many questions that this parable raises, I leave you with one. Who is it who is lying at our (my) door and yet is unheeded by us(me)? The answer, in the end, is the same one that Mother Theresa gave: that one is Jesus. Who is not here celebrating this great Faith with us? Whom have we ignored? Who has not been welcomed here? Who has not been helped? As we grow the Church of Jesus Christ here in our local parishes, let us always seek to answer these questions. I believe that our forming a St. Vincent de Paul Conference here will go a long way toward answering these questions. I know that sharing a meal together on Wednesday evenings (St. Mary’s and Holy Family-St. William) and on Saturday evenings (St. Anthony) as we grow together in understanding our faith will go a long way to help us answer these questions.
And if we begin to answer these questions … who knows what God might do in our midst? Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,