Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
"My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime..." (Lk. 16:19-31).
On Sundays, we profess to look forward to the life of the world to come. That is an affirmation of our belief in Jesus' promise of eternal life to those of us who eat His Body and drink His Blood. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." (Jn. 6:54)
On this 26th Sunday of Ordinary time, Jesus speaks to us through the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the poor man who stood at his gate day in and day out. This rich man appears consumed by his wealth and worldly possessions. He is oblivious to Lazarus and other marginalized people around him. Both characters die. Lazarus is granted a seat at the heavenly banquet and rests in the bosom of Abraham. The rich man sent to the netherworld looks up and SEES Lazarus for the first time. He cries out to Abraham to send Lazarus with water to cool him as he lingers in the eternal fire. He pleads to have Lazarus return to earth to warn his brothers so they do not end up like him in hell. Abraham responds if his brothers did not believe the prophets, they would not believe a messenger.
Personal situations and not just material possessions can cause us to become blind to the Lazarus' around us. Although more socially connected in this age of technology, we remain very much isolated and blind. All of us enjoying our little digital world leads to limited personal interaction and increased relational isolation.
The moral strength of our faith communities is measured by how we treat the vulnerable around us. St. Teresa of Avila states: "Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. …Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body..."
The theology of prosperity fuels our desire for wealth and power and causes us to lose sight of what is important. We have become somewhat less empathetic, less aware, and protective of the more vulnerable members of our communities. Our most vital earthly choice should be to love, praise, and serve our God. Today, many things in our lives compete for the love of God — money, power, and pleasure. We call on the Lord Jesus to fill us with His grace and use us, His blind instruments, to love and serve all His people. "And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' "(Mt. 25:40).
In the words of Pope Francis: "Those who believe themselves to be rich, successful and secure, base everything on themselves and close themselves off from God and their brothers and sisters, whereas those who know they are poor and not self-sufficient remain open to God and their neighbor..." Luke's Gospel passage today reaffirms the purpose and meaning of our lives that extends beyond the boundaries of our earthly stay. God's love for us is consistent, unconditional, and unwavering. But our earthly choices help to determine where we will spend our eternity.
Author: Michèle Guerrier
St. Therese of Lisieux, Brooklyn, NY
Grand Lady of the Knights of St. Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary – Court 333 Fr. Jeffery T. Dillon
Member Brooklyn Diocese Commission on Racism & Social Justice
Founder of Anchored in Christ Ministries