Have Eyes and Ears Open
Readings: Jer 17:5-10; Lk 16:19-31
"There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus." Lk 16:19-20
A woman assaulted at a subway stop in New York City several years ago later recalled the image that will be etched in her mind forever. As she struggled against her assailant, she saw a man on a bench about 100 yards away wearing headphones and happily moving to the sound of a beat — utterly oblivious to the harm she was enduring.
What a brutally stark contrast in experiences between the woman and the man with the headphones. As brutal a contrast as that of the life of the rich man compared with Lazarus.
Many of us may read the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus and privately breathe a sigh of relief. Certainly we're not rich, so we must be safe from the eternal punishment of the rich man. But the lesson here is not that it is sinful to be rich. Indeed, Abraham himself had been wealthy, but he was also very generous. He knew that heeding God meant serving others.
The point is, wealth is not the offense. It's what you do with it. The lure of greed and the pursuit of happiness without regard to our neighbors are sins that transcend economic standing. This parable is about roots, the roots of our heart. Do they seek nourishment from earthly treasure? Or do they draw from the eternal spring of God's compassion, which offers succor to a suffering world?
We must be rich toward God and rich in faith. All of us face death. And it is then when we will be judged. Jesus makes perfectly clear that we have been given fair warning to embrace the word of God. It's as clear and real as the suffering that surrounds us. It's as clear as the screams of the woman in the subway. But are we listening?
Dear Lord, help me to provide comfort to those in need. May I place my neighbors' own happiness above that of my own. I hear Your call for compassion. May I reject the lures of greed. Amen.
Diary of St. Faustina