Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday word, 29 Sep 2013

Staying Unlocked
26th Sunday of the Year C (29 Sep 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
People viewed Jesus differently, and he spoke different parables to them. He told disciples ones about prayer and possessions; to scribes and Pharisees ones of rejection. He urged disciples to use possessions reliably, faithfully. Because scribes and Pharisees objected to the welcome Jesus gave sinners he told parables of the lost: lost sheep; lost coin; lost son.

Overhearing them scribes and Pharisees mocked Jesus.1 They did not just disagree, they mocked! To mock treats another as worthless or only worth hating. Our distance from them makes it hard for us to feel their fierce hostility toward Jesus. Their hateful feelings did not silence Jesus. He responded with the parable of rejection we just heard.

Jesus told his parable of a certain rich man and a certain poor man to money-loving scribes and Pharisees.2 Loving money differs from using money. To love money flows from placing trust, faith in money as though it could give life. Putting faith and trust in anything but God is out of place. It is idolatry. Idolatry conjures carvings of gold, and we may say we don’t do that. Comb the scriptures and you will find people have put faith in many things from fruit to figures of wood, stone and metal to unseen attitudes of desiring ignoble things for self or others and the visible effects of coveting.3 An ancient commentary on Jewish living was uncompromising: Whoever turns away his eyes from one who appeals for charity is considered as if he were serving idols.4

It is one thing to turn eyes away; it is another to step over a poor person. The parable’s poor man was likely crippled for he was dumped at the rich man’s gate. Crippled and unclothed cued that someone was unclean. Dogs, too, were considered unclean. Licked by dogs that poor man was in a sorry way. Dumped at the gate of a rich man may have been a desperate attempt to help him. Surely the rich man would see him! He stepped over him, ignoring him. In stepping over the poor man the rich man trampled the words of Moses, In no way should the one in need die out from your land.5

His love for luxurious living locked the rich man in its grip. So tightly it held him that he obeyed it rather than God’s heart. In his torment he treated Lazarus as his lackey: ease my thirst; warn my brothers. Moses and the Prophets told of Messiah Jesus not to mention how to live. If no one heed them about right living, which we get our minds around, no one will heed them about Messiah Jesus and his rising from the dead.6

The rich man could have fulfilled his duty of charity at his doorstep. So with us as the proverb has it: “Charity begins at home.” It is born of an attitude of sensitivity. It grows by noticing others in need. Acts of compassion focus eyes of compassion. If Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus causes us to feel, “I don’t want to act like the rich man!” then our hearts are not hardened. Nor are we locked into idolatry of wealth. That feeling cues us to Jesus visiting us. To make room for him visiting us in his poor friends is our best response.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week consider your gifts.
  • Notice the lavish ways the Trinity blesses you.
  • Ask poor Lazarus to introduce you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for abiding with you even when you don’t think of him; consider all you have as ways Jesus visits you and thank him.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to grow more sensitive to those in need and to turn your eyes toward them.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It steers us from any idolatry. It keeps our hearts supple so we can show more readily to others Jesus’ love for us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Luke 16.14.
  2. Luke 16.14.
  3. Genesis 3.2-7; Deuteronomy 29.16; Colossians 3.5.
  4. Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra 10a.
  5. Deuteronomy 15.11—Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures Jesus and the apostles used.
  6. By beginning with Moses and the Prophets Risen Jesus explained to others how they referred to him. Luke 24.27.

Wiki-images of the rich man in hell and of 13th century allegory of charity public domain in the U.S.

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