A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME-CYCLE”C”-9/29/13- SMG
+ Pax et Bonum!
I suppose that it can happen to all of us. We all get busy. We’re always on our way to some place. We’re always thinking about a million different things. We are all in our own worlds. We all get in our own zones. And then we ignore those around us. And who’s the quickest and the easiest for us ignore? It’s got to be the poor, the disenfranchised, the needy, and the beggar. We walk by. We drive by. We ignore them. And if we ignore them enough, after awhile, we don’t even see them anymore. We harden our hearts, because, after all, we can’t help everyone. And it is sometime and somewhere in this whole process, that we discover that we’ve quit caring because we’ve taught ourselves to quit noticing. We fail to see the truth, the reality, and in our self-inflicted blindness, it’s our hearts that really get damaged.
Jesus tells us this story about this very thing in our Gospel today. We get introduced to two men, Lazarus, a poor beggar, and a rich man, whose name we’ll never know. The story starts by contrasting each of these two men. The rich man is clad in fine linen and purple garments. We are impressed, as we always are, by how nice he must have looked. The oozing sores provide the main description of Lazarus, and we want to look the other way. The rich fare that is described in our first reading from Amos, must have been exactly what was on the rich man’s table. Lazarus longs for leftover dog food in his hunger. Servants, who are constantly standing by, take care of the rich man’s every whim. But only these dogs can be found at Lazarus’ side. What a great contrast! Could two men be any more different?
But all of a sudden, everything changes and suddenly these two men have everything in common. They both die and all their worldly good are gone. No more purple garments. No more sores. No more rich or poor. The Gospel says that when Lazarus breathes his last, his soul is ushered away by God’s own messengers and granted the place of the place of the greatest comfort and love, the bosom of Abraham. The Gospel simply tells us that the rich man died and was buried. Clearly everything has changed.
The rich man didn’t notice. He didn’t see. His heart was hardened. He was so busy. He was comfortable that he didn’t have to see. And that’s where, my brothers and sisters, this Gospel becomes a warning for all of us! A few weeks ago, at his first canonization ceremony, Pope Francis preached that the comfortable living that so many of us have become so used to, can cause what the Pope called “gentrification of the heart”. We can become so comfortable in our day to day living, that we become blind to the needs of others. For the most part, the rich man, just like us, could rightly say that he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He was simply enjoying what had come his way. The rich man thought that he had earned it. This is not a sin of commission. It’s not what the rich man did. It is a sin of omission. The rich man’s problem is what he didn’t do. He was blind to the needs of a poor man that he walked by every day. And his blindness hardened his heart!
I suppose that there are many who expand this story into huge theories of social justice and liberation theology. And while that may be good to get all of us thinking about unjust social issues and those suffering all around us, if we make this story too big, something gets lost in the translation. This is a very personal story, that I gotta believe that Jesus really wanted to hit all of us in the gut. This story isn’t about economics, or politics, or distribution of the world’s good. This story is about a hungry man, and sores, and how it is so much easier to ignore the poor and those in any need, than it is to take care of their needs. Jesus isn’t asking us to change the whole world. He’s not asking us for all of our money, or our food, or even all of our time. He is asking us to open our eyes and notice those around us in need. He is asking us to soften our hearts and care about others a lot more than we do. There are many, many different kinds of poverty. And yet if we open our eyes, and change our hearts, we will end up changing our world!
+ May God bless us and help each one of us to be more compassionate! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti … Pray for us !!!