The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass!
“But You, Man Of God, Pursue Righteousness”
This Sunday's readings warn against the “complacency” of hypocrisy and injustice. It is a continuation of last Sunday’s theme of warnings to those who profit at the expense of others. But we also hear in today’s Epistle what the solution is—pursue righteousness.
Our first reading this Sunday (Amos 6:1,4-7) is again from the Prophet Amos who prophesied at a time when Israel was enjoying great prosperity. This week's reading adds a blunt warning of woe to those whose life of excess made a mockery of their religion and the gifts God had given them.
Thus says the LORD the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph! Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.
In our Epistle reading from the end of St. Paul's first letter to Timothy (6:11-16), we hear how we should live our lives, in stark contrast to the characters in today’s first reading and Gospel. St. Paul always gives us concrete instruction and examples of how we are to live as disciples of Christ.
But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.
Our Gospel reading (Luke 16:19-31) builds on the theme of our first reading and brings it to its natural conclusion - the consequences of such a life of indifference to those in need. Jesus told a parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, how the tables were turned in the afterlife. The final words of the parable offer a prophetic assertion—those who are indifferent to the poor and ignore the warnings of the prophets will also ignore the resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus said to the Pharisees: "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, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.'
Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.' He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"
It is not evil to be rich. Wealth, regardless of its form, should be seen as a gift from God which will be multiplied when it is shared with others. Today’s warnings are to those who spend their wealth (monetary or otherwise) exclusively on themselves and do not share their gifts with others, especially those less fortunate. Our readings today beg the question, how do we steward our gifts and our wealth? Are we persuaded the one who rose from the dead?
- Read and reflect on the full readings of Today’s Mass at: www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092919.cfm