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Things To Ponder  


 

Things to Ponder

 I use this page to share messages of an inspirational nature, or simply something to ponder. It is my hope that you will  always be inspired.


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Homily Reflections - Luke 16:19-31- 26th Sunday

in Ordinary Time

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Introduction: Keep Your Eyes Open to the Needy

This Sunday’s Gospel follows recent parables on stewardship and the right use of wealth (riches, possessions, privileges, titles, honors) and culminates this weekend in the famous parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This well-known and disturbing parable appears only in Luke and reflects the evangelist’s overriding concern for the poor and for social justice. This is a huge theme in Luke’s writings: the importance of caring for the poor, marginalized, forgotten, and outcasts in the life of discipleship. (A reminder to all deacons!)

Who do you see as poor, marginalized, forgotten in your neighborhood, nation, world? Who is “out?”

In this parable, Jesus contrasts the life of the rich man - Dives (Latin word dives that means “rich person”) and the poor man – Lazarus (Hebrew abbreviation that means “God has helped”) who lives in the shadow of the rich man and his wealth.

The information concerning the rich man’s clothing indicates he is excessively wealthy. Purple dye was a costly commodity that few could afford. This detail heightens the contrast between Dives and Lazarus who has sores that only dogs would lick. That Lazarus keeps company with dogs accentuates his dismal state, since dogs were considered filthy, undesirable animals.

Both die. Lazarus finds himself in heaven; Dives in the netherworld. The rich man asks for assistance from Lazarus in his torment. But Abraham reminds the rich man of the good things he enjoyed in his life and describes the current situation as a reversal of fortune – another major theme in Luke’s Gospel. This theme is found especially in Luke 1:46-55: the hungry are “filled with good things” while the rich are “sent away empty.” The Great Reversal Theme.

Have you ever seen this “reversal of fortune?”

Here in this story, Luke makes an interesting point. When Lazarus goes to Abraham, he finally receives the comfort and compassion denied him in this world. When the rich man calls out to Abraham, he views Lazarus as his servant, calling for him to be sent to cool his tongue. There seems to be an arrogant tone in his request. He does not ask Abraham for the favor but requests that Abraham command Lazarus to come down and refresh him. Most likely, he treated Lazarus in a similar fashion when they were both alive. And when the rich man calls out to Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn his brothers, he demonstrates that he does not understand, nor has he truly repented. Self-centered, he does not see things have changed.

Am I a self-centered or other-centered person?

This parable’s lesson is clear. Dives was oblivious to the needs of those around him, while he was alive. And now that he is dead, he is still oblivious. Herein lies the danger of wealth that Jesus always preaches: Power and wealth blind us to the Kingdom of God in this life and in the next. They blind us to the needs of those around us.

How do I use my wealth (riches, possessions, titles, privileges, honors) for others?

Luke concludes this parable on an ironic note – for now the rich man needs Lazarus in order to be saved! Had he paid attention to Lazarus begging for table scraps at the door of his house, the rich man would not be in the predicament he is in now. There is now a chasm between Lazarus (who is now “in”) and Dives (who is now “out”). Indeed, ironic.

Who is “in” and who is “out” in your life?

I would invite you to take time to read and ponder the words from the Gospel of Luke 16:19-31.

What word or words caught your attention?
What in this passage comforted you?
What in this passage challenged you?
Did anything surprise you?
Describe your feelings when you read this passage.

Further Questions and Reflections:

There is a great chasm in our world between the “haves” and the “have nots” – and God is on the side of the latter. This Gospel reading is a challenge and warning for those of us with privilege; and it is a comforting message for those who suffer now. This theme of “option for the poor” runs throughout all Scripture – especially in the prophetic writings.

Can this deep chasm between the “haves” and the “have-nots” be bridged? In what way/s?

Is your sense of community broader than any limits of class, economic status, country or religion that the world teaches us to carefully observe?

Over the past few weeks, our Gospel readings have challenged us to think about our priorities, about how we orient ourselves, and what we ultimately desire to “lay hold of.” How does this Gospel inspire or challenge you? Do you lack charity? Justice?
    
Core message: Be alert to the needs under your nose.

Deacon David

Deacon David Suley
St. Patrick Catholic Church
Rockville, Maryland

Published with Permission


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