Lydia Cristini

WORD MADE FLESH

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 25, 2016
Amos 6.1, 4-7 | Psalm 146 | 1 Timothy 6.11-16 | Luke 16.19-31
September 12, 2016

Sunday's readings offer a difficult message. Through the prophet Amos, God admonishes the people for their wealth, ease and complacency. Then, Paul says to "keep the commandment without stain or reproach."

Finally, Jesus lays it all out with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: the rich man is tormented after death for not heeding God and the prophets by not helping the impoverished and diseased Lazarus suffering at his door.

This is bad news for us in Canada. Most of us, almost regardless of our wages, would be considered rich, when compared with the people of many developing nations.

Most Canadians would fall under the description of the rich man in the parable, with an estimated 620 million destitute poor lying at our door (ox.ac.uk/news/2014-06-16-half-worlds-poor-classed-destitute).

The lord upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. - Psalm 146.9

'The lord upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.'

Psalm 146.9

However, these messages in Scripture do not condemn money itself. It is the interior attitude of the heart which is important. Money is not the issue; idolatry of money is the problem.

In his first papal exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis points to the dehumanizing effect of wealth ruling us, rather than the other way around.

He writes, "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'Thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion.

"Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality."

Each of us has a responsibility to examine our own hearts. In our daily decisions, do we contribute to, or work against, the economy of exclusion and inequality? I could do better in this area myself. It is easier to buy into the false security money gives than to give money away.

PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS

The key is in the Second Reading. If we follow the directions of St. Paul, and "pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness," God's grace will guide our decisions.

If we spend time with God, build our relationship with God and keep our eyes fixed on the kingdom of God, every person and thing will take their rightful place in our lives.

Being Christian means that it is possible to possess wealth without being possessed by it. However, that requires making tough questions about one's own life.

Jesus and Pope Francis say our monetary decisions have ethical implications. As we make these daily choices, we can choose to live in Christian solidarity and mercy, and to keep our eyes and hearts open to the needs of the Lazaruses around us, no matter where they live.