Monthly Archives: September 2010

The rich man and Lazarus

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Homily for the twenty-sixth Sunday (C) in Ordinary Time
Read the accompanying Scripture here.

In today’s Gospel the rich man lives only for himself. It is not mentioned that he is evil in any other way. He lives in luxury and dines sumptuously each day. He is so absorbed in satisfying himself that he doesn’t even notice Lazarus starving at his door. His self indulgence will have eternal consequences.

The rich man had an abundance of something Lazarus needed, food. Lazarus longed just for the scraps that fell from his table. Was Lazarus being unjust by sitting at the door of the rich man? I recently heard a conversation on the radio in which the host and his guests were talking about how troublesome beggars are. There should be a law against them. Why can’t they just find a job?

It would be nice if we did not have to be bothered with such things, but life is more complicated than that. The point of this Gospel is that, we cannot just live for ourselves. We must be aware of the needs of others, and this is not only about food and shelter and clothing. We all have something that someone else needs and we will never develop spiritually until we share from what we have been given.

First of all we must give God His due, not because He needs it, but because it is necessary for our own happiness. We are created to be in a charitable relationship with God and each other. There will always be disorder in our lives until we love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart soul and strength. When we are connected to God by faith and in prayer He will guide us to make right choices.

No matter whether we are rich or poor we all have 24 hours each day and sometimes the best gift we can share is our time. First of all we must spend time in prayer each day to be connected to God and His guidance. After God, comes the people who are most important to you; your spouse, your children, parents, family members. We are obliged to share quality time with the people who depend on us. Lack of quality time destroys relationships.

Our faith community also needs for us to share from our time, talent and treasure. In baptism we all have been given gifts by God which can only be discovered by being formed in our faith and participating in our faith community. These gifts are not for our own use only, but are meant to build up the Body of Christ, which is His Church. If we fail to contribute to our faith community in a significant way we are stifling our spiritual growth.

One of the greatest gifts we have been given is the gift of faith because it makes it possible for us to have an intimate, personal relationship with God. This gift is only of benefit to us if we develop it, live it and share it. As our faith transforms us we are expected to be an instrument of transformation for society. St. John Chrysostom once said:” There is no one colder than a Christian who is uninterested in the salvation of others.” When we stand before God, none of us will have an excuse for not sharing from what we have received.

It is natural for us to want to live just for ourselves like the rich man in the Gospel, even if we aren’t rich. However, God entered into the world in the person of Jesus Christ to radically change the possibilities of life on earth. That’s why we all must be converted to a new way of thinking and living by accepting the truths of the Gospel and turning away from sin. This conversion is possible if the first thing each morning we give ourselves to Christ and ask him for the grace to make the changes we know we must make. Conversion is a daily process that is necessary for us to grow in virtue and become spiritually mature. If we have a desire in our heart to change he will help us.

We naturally resist conversion, but it is necessary for our salvation and for true happiness and peace right now. The Lord has a great plan for us and He has given us His Church to help us live that plan. There is great joy in drawing close to God and believing, living and sharing the truths He has revealed. After all, it is our purpose for being on this earth.

Faith is a gift from God, but believing is a choice.

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