Beginning with today's gospel on Lazarus, serious reminders that prosperity cannot cover the cost of discipleship
The end of September and beginning of October are marked by a series of memorials and commemorations that vividly illustrates the diversity of the universal Church. From the Bohemian ruler Wenceslaus and the Filipino husband and father Lawrence Ruiz and his martyred companions from Japan (both on September 28) to the great biblical scholar and Father of the Church Jerome (September 30), the cloistered missionary-at-heart Thérèse of Liseux (October 1) and Carthusian founder Bruno (October 6), to the Indiana foundress Theodora Guerin (October 3) and the Louisana pastor and missionary Francis Seelos (October 5) to the beloved Francis of Assisi (October 4), these days remind us that holiness isn’t limited to one way of life, gender, or historical period.
In this Sunday’s Second Reading, we hear Saint Paul remind his young co-worker Timothy that his position within the Church demands total dedication to God and a faithful witness to Christ.
Although few of us have the pastoral responsibility that Timothy did (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3), each of us does have a part to play in the mission of the Church. We are called to persevere in living out our individual, unique vocation of service to God and the Church. Paul, Timothy, and the saints mentioned above understood that this dedication will cost us something. We probably won’t be martyred like Wenceslaus and Lawrence Ruiz, or be called to a cloistered life like Thérèse, but we will have to go out outside of ourselves and live lives of service and sacrifice.
This Sunday’s Gospel—the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man—offers us an insight into what this sacrifice and service mean. Pope Benedict XVI reflected on this in his encyclical Spes Salvi (“Saved in Hope): “Jesus admonishes us through the image of a soul destroyed by arrogance and opulence, who has created an impassable chasm between himself and the poor man; the chasm of being trapped within material pleasures, the chasm of forgetting the other, of incapacity to love, which then becomes a burning and unquenchable thirst” (44).
Living our call to be disciples and to manifest the presence of Christ in the world doesn’t allow for selfish ambition, apathy, complacency, or indifference to the plight of others (cf. Amos 6:1a, 4-7). This isn’t about political agendas, government budgets, or some radical or liberal ideology. In the end, this call is grounded in the Gospel which forms the starting point and is the focus of our faith.
What place do your monetary and material resources have in your life? How do you use these for the good of those who have less than you?
Who are the “Lazaruses” in your family, parish, and community?
Who are the holy women and men who inspire you to live your faith in a more dynamic way? How can you better follow their example?
Words of Wisdom: “If you show much eagerness in welcoming some famous and distinguished person you do nothing remarkable; often the high rank of a guest compels even reluctant hosts to show every sign of courtesy. But we do something truly great and admirable when we give a most courteous welcome to all, even the outcasts of society of people of humble condition. Christ himself praised those who acted in this way, declaring: Whatever you did for one of these very poor people you did for me.”—Saint John Chrysostom