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This Sunday we celebrate the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our Gospel this Sunday is the familiar Story of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man “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.” Both Lazarus and the rich man died. Lazarus found comfort in the “bosom of Abraham” while the rich man went to the “netherworld where he was in torment.” The rich man appealed to Abraham to have pity on him: “Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.” Abraham reminded the rich man that “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.”
There are two very important lessons in this Gospel. 1. Notice that the rich man didn’t refuse to help Lazarus. (They have no interaction with each other in this Gospel.) It is simply that he didn’t notice Lazarus in need. This reminds us that we are called to notice and respond to the needs of those around us. 2. The Gospel makes clear that the choices we make here on earth have eternal consequences. We don’t get a “do over” at the end of our life.
The first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Amos. It shares the theme of the Gospel. It begins: “Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion.” This reminds us that compliancy in the face of need is as bad as refusing to help.
In our second this Sunday we continue to read from the first Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy. In it Paul exhorts Timothy to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. When have you have been complacent in the face of need?
2. Has there been a time when you noticed a “need” that you initially missed. How did you respond?
3. I have never thought of being called to “compete well for the faith.” Yet, I like that idea. It reminds me that faith should not always be easy or without difficulty. How are you called to “compete well for the faith?’’