Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Image of Father Abraham and

Lectionary: 138

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus surpasses every promise of glory to the faithful poor and every threat of doom to the careless wealthy that any preacher might devise.

Here is the traditional image of Hell as a burning underworld of torment; and it’s hard to argue that the sufferer has not deserved his punishment. Even his witless plea that Lazarus should approach this “place of torment” and suffer the unbearable heat demonstrates his mindless arrogance. When that plea fails he insinuates that no one warned him what might happen, and even that someone should have risen from the dead to warn him. But, as the reader knows so well, a man has been raised from the dead and his warnings too were ignored.

Nor is Christianity a lone voice in the wilderness; most religious traditions warn against reliance on riches.
  • The fool is his own enemy. Seeking wealth, he destroys himself. Seek rather the other shore. (Buddhist)
  • The Prophet pointed out with his hand towards his right, his left and his back (while illustrating it). He proceeded with his walk and said, “The rich are in fact the poor (little rewarded) on the Day of Resurrection except those who spend their wealth like this, and like this, and like this, to their right, left and back, but such people are few in number.”  (Islam)
  • If you want to know what God thinks of money, look at the people he gives it to. (Jewish)
  • Even with vast sums of wealth, the mind is not satisfied. Gazing upon countless beauties, the man is not satisfied. He is so involved with his wife and sons - he believes that they belong to him. That wealth shall pass away, and those relatives shall be reduced to ashes. (Sikh)

The pursuit of wealth is a singularly bad investment of one’s time, energy and talent. It can lead only to segregation, ignorance, confusion and deepening distress. Isolated by security, insulated from want, separated from the fellowship of fellow pilgrims in this Valley of Darkness, without their friendly guidance and helpful criticism, the rich can expect only to stumble and fall. They invite catastrophe and pathetically beg for sympathy when it falls on them.

To live in the United States at any time since the Second World War is to suffer a particular danger. The only nation to come out of the war wealthier and more powerful, our policies have pursued greater security, more military power, and more extravagance even as we entertained the fiction that every nation and every human being should enjoy the same “freedoms.” From within this gilded cage it is hard to persuade our children that their so-called freedoms are, in fact, severe restrictions.
The Christian must follow the path of Jesus into poverty and communion. 
Though he was in the form of God Jesus did not consider Equality with God something to be grasped. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.