The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
September 29th, 2019 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 16:19-31
Years ago, I heard a very interesting play on words. Maybe you too are familiar with it. It goes like this. “Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Perhaps these words came to the mind of a poetic person after reading today’s gospel about the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus. One was described as quite comfortable in this life and one was very afflicted. They both died as we all do. And you know the rest of the gospel story. Once you hear it (even as a child), you don’t forget it.
Also of interest is the gospel’s conclusion. The rich man thought that if his rich friends knew what God expects them to do during their lives on earth, and additionally, if they knew that divine judgment awaits them after death, they might change their ways. They would share their wealth with the poor. Or maybe they wouldn’t. The gospel implies the latter response.
This gospel is one of the foundation stones for the Catholic Church’s social teachings. Popes for the last hundred years have been pointing to the needs of the poor and the duty of those more well-off to share their wealth with the poor. Some, of course, do this with a generous heart and helping hands. Many don’t.
A few words about Catholic social responsibility. It is based on the teachings of Jesus and the long traditional of the church. It is rooted in the belief that all creation, including your life and mine, is a gift from God. Ultimately, everything created belongs to God.
During our lives on Earth we are offered what we need to live with the dignity of human persons. For all kinds of reasons some people are more fortunate than others. So, as a matter of justice, those who have more are called to share their excess with those who do not have enough to survive.
We are called to share not only financial resources, but also provide educational and health assistance, or any kind of help, wherever this is needed. We can share our time and words with the lonely and provide places of dignity for those who have no place to lay their head. Or offer a kind word and help to those who are faceless and forgotten in society. As St. Paul says: Those who have received much, much will be expected. The great example of social justice is the story of the Good Samaritan. He stopped to help a stranger in distress, a person in clear need. He did so because he had a generous heart. Just like God.
©David M. Thomas, PhD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Download this simple Observe-Judge-Act method for discussion with your family or your CFM group.