Thought for the Week

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

Laredo, Texas 9/25/2022

 

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Amos 6:1,4-7. Psalm 146. Timothy 6:11-16. Luke 16:19-31

 

“Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” 2 Cor. 8: 9.

 

Riches in themselves are not evil. Look at our God who is rich beyond measure but is merciful, loving, forgiving and generous. It is the use to which we put riches for which we are judged. If we won a million dollars, what is the first things we think of: pay off the mortgage, buy a new car, put some in the college fund, buy that dream house, etc. These are not bad things but is our first thought about giving to the poor, those less fortunate than ourselves? Taking care of number one is just natural but it takes effort to think of the other first.

 

The Prophet Amos describes the misuse of riches and the consequences. Ignoring the plight of the defenseless, in this case Joseph, will even be punished in this life with exile and the loss of the perverted lifestyle. Amos is warning the people, so that they might have time to repent. He does not mince any words about how some rich people abuse the blessings of wealth and the results of such behavior.

 

Even the poor who envy and wish evil on the rich have already abused riches in their heart. We can wish to have our share in the good life but not to anyone else’s loss or shame. We can challenge the rich in their use of their wealth and power. We can work for an equal distribution of the world’s treasures but hopefully not through hatred or violence. We then become just like the oppressor. In Lazarus’ story we do not see him rising up in violence against the rich man. He waits humbly at the door, seeking to influence and encourage the rich man to have mercy and to open his eyes to suffering. Jesus, a poor man, had the power to strike dead all those that crucified him but he humbly laid down his life for those same people.

 

The generosity of the poor is humbling. From their little they often share with others because they know what it is like to be without. My parents were like that. We had very little but they always had a helping hand for others. Nobody was going to go hungry or homeless on my father’s watch. When my father died, the people said that they knew he didn’t go to church but if they could be half the Christian that my dad was, they would be saved for sure.

 

Jesus gives us the sad story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man never lifted a finger to help Lazarus, even with the crumbs from his table. When they both died, Lazarus was held in the arms of Abraham and the rich man into the “netherworld.” We might ask, “Why in the “bosom of Abraham? Weren’t there others more appropriate, like angels?” Well, the angels did carry him to Abraham.

So the story goes, that Abraham had the habit of helping wayfaring people and other strangers on the road. He was also the great father and ancestor of the Jewish people, so this would have impressed the Pharisees.

 

An interesting point in the Lazarus story is the reference to resurrection – rising from the dead. The rich man wants Lazarus to go back to earth to warn his brothers away from behavior that warrants such torment hereafter. Abraham says, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” We see this very situation played out in Jesus’ life.

 

 

In St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy we are told to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness - keep the commandments without stain or reproach.” These directives tell us what to do with our riches.

 

“Blessed is the one who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry,” Psalm 146

 

Sister Rosemarie Goins, a Felician Franciscan Sister