Lax about Lazarus

  • September 29, 2019 (readings)
  • Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
  • Father Edward McIlmail, LC
  • Luke 16: 19-31

    Jesus said to the Pharisees: "There was a rich man who 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. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.' Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between you and us, 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.' He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"

    Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

    Petition: Lord, make me more aware of the people around me who need my help.

    1. Nice Isn't Enough: The rich man in today's Gospel is the proverbial “nice guy.” His good qualities abound. He does, after all, accept his fate meekly. He doesn't ask to be released from hell; he asks for only a drop of water to quench his thirst. And when he can't get even that much relief, he begs for a special messenger in the hopes of sparing his brothers a similar fate. He at least thinks of the welfare of others. Yet, all that niceness didn't save him from eternal punishment. Do I ever think that just being a "nice" person will get me to heaven? Might I be using my standards to judge my worthiness, rather than using God's standards?

    2. The “O” Word: The rich man never seemed to be bothered by Lazarus. The poor man was doubtlessly a pitiful sight to behold. Some people would have been quick to send servants to chase the beggar away. But not the rich man; no, he deliberately left the beggar alone. And that is where the rich man erred. His was a sin of omission. The rich man lost his soul not for what he did, but for what he failed to do. Am I much better? Is there someone in need, right under my nose, who I routinely ignore? Is there something I could be doing to end evil? Do I help the pro-life effort? Do I contribute to the poor? Do I dedicate time to a needy child or sibling or in-law?

    3. Late Love: The rich man, now condemned, shows concern for his five brothers. They, presumably, are living it up — and destined for the same end as their hapless sibling. The rich man's concern is well-placed, but his timing is late. If only he had shown concern for his brothers' souls when he was alive — then he might have made an impact. Caring for family members, helping them reach heaven, is the most loving thing we can do for them. Everything else will be meaningless if our behavior (or omission) prevents others from attaining salvation. Does that prompt me to pray regularly for family members? To offer up sacrifices for them? Do I try to help others grow in their faith?

    Conversation with Christ: Lord, my time in this world is short. Too many people suffer the unexpected death of loved ones and then regret that they didn't do more for them. Let me not make that same mistake. Help me see that each day is a gift, and each encounter with another person is an opportunity to show your love to them.

    Resolution: I will do an act of charity for someone whom I have been taking for granted.

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