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Have Eyes and Ears Open

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Feb. 21

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.

Scripture
Deut 24:10-22
Ps 73:12
Zech 7:9-10

Catechism
2439,
2544-45, 2556

Diary of St. Faustina
1155-58

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Mary - Feb 21, 2008

Thank you for this reflection - I was just about to start worrying about the decline of the stock market and its effects on my retirement account. Reading this reflection reminded me that my real treasure is in heaven and my job on earth is to share the wealth I have with those who have much less and need much more. Thank you.

Elizabeth - Feb 22, 2008

I often wonder if it is sinful to throw out the dozens of religious order requests for donations that I receive daily. They all seem to include a rosary, medal, statuette, prayer booklet, raffle tickets, etc. which I did not request. I recognize that they all need donations, but I feel bombarded with guilt-inducing mail if I can't respond to every request, especially when they include one of those religious articles, which I can't bring myself to throw out. Please advise how to handle this chaotic mail situation in the eyes of God - is it sinful to throw out pictures of Jesus, Mary, and saints, as well as the cheaply made religious articles? My friends and family struggle with this same dilemma.

Eileen - Feb 22, 2008

Elizabeth, thank you for asking the question that has been in my mind for a long time. I try to be generous with those in need around me first. There is so much need for bare essentials at this time. I pass on medals, rosaries etc to friend and relatives. I've been known to leave articles in waiting rooms at hospitals.

Richronsea - Feb 22, 2008

THANK YOU LORD FOR THE GRACE TO HELP THE DETROIT RESCUE MISSION, COVENANT HOUSE IN NEW YORK, CARE, AND CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES AND MANY OTHERS. YOU GRANT ME MORE THAN I DESERVE.