Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
THURSDAY, March 4th Lk. 16: 19-20 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.”
- There are so many Lazaruses on our doorstep! Every person we encounter in our day is someone to acknowledge, listen to, and affirm in some way! Every person needs to be recognized in their own unique individuality.
Part 1: Lazarus and the Rich Man… Excerpts from a talk by Sister Mary Clare, O.C.D.
Part 2: LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN… by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
PART 1: Lazarus and the Rich Man… Excerpts from a talk by Sister Mary Clare, O.C.D.
There is no authentic Catholic spirituality that is not social. So if you ever come across a spirituality that says you can reach union with God, which is our ultimate goal, in isolation, you cannot do that, and that is not authentically Catholic.
We are meant to live as the Body of Christ in communion with one another. It’s really important to think about our spirituality and how it integrates into what we do every day. We are human beings made in the image and likeness of God and we have to know how we integrate who we are, our being, into what we do every day.
The three reflections that I want to look at today are: encounter with Christ, encounter with our neighbor, and discernment in practice.
In today’s society, we really have a crisis of meaning. What is life all about? And this leads to a sense of alienation. There’s a sense of loss, a sense of mourning in our society because of this.
We have a disposable culture, right? We think about life in prospect and for us it’s cheap and disposable. Just get rid of it. It’s an inconvenience (legalized abortion). We think about life in fact and it’s expensive and disposable. We can’t afford you, so we’ll get rid of you (legalized euthanasia)
That’s the kind of society mentality that we’re thinking in.
And in order to solve it, we’re grasping after truths. We’re trying to find out, “What’s the truth?” When we really need to be seeking the Truth with a capital “T”, right? That’s going to be the answer to our problems.
We can only do that, we can only change, if we begin with ourselves. Be souls of prayer or else you will have nothing to give. We need to encounter Christ in our daily life. That means taking time out. That means spending time with Our Lord. I’ve got to encounter the Person of Christ.
In order to treat others with dignity, I must first know mine. I must know what it means to be a child of God, right? I must know what it means to be made in His image and likeness. I must experience that I have been called into being by name for a purpose. And once I’ve experienced that, then I can experience that you have been called into being by name for a purpose and reverence it.
If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me to drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. Christ will give to us, but we must go to Him. He wants to give to us in abundance. I’m not perfect; I’m broken; I need to be redeemed. But I am not disposable. I’m not dispensable. I have a mission that no one else can fill. I have to believe that about myself, right? I have to know His grace is abundant.
Next is our encounter with our neighbor. As I said before, all Catholic spirituality is social. We’re meant to live in community. We’re created to live in community. And that’s true because we’re made in the image of the Trinity who is an eternal community, right? An eternal communion of three Persons. So we can’t ever let that go.
The primary way we experience community is obviously through marriage and the family; but then that extends out to the broader community of the Body of Christ, the Church; and then even beyond that into the broader community of the human family, of everyone created as a child of God.
Going back to our encounter with Christ and how this fits into neighbor, when I look at Christ, I look into the face of Christ. John Paul would say that a lot, right? Contemplating the face of Christ, He mirrors back to me who I am. He mirrors back to me my value and my dignity.
We do the same with each other. When you look at me, the questions that come unconsciously to your mind are, “Do you see me? Do you care?” And the immediate next questions that come to mind are, “Does anybody care?” And “Does God?” So can you see how important our interaction with our neighbor is? Because if they’re not experiencing through us that human love, how can they experience the love of God? We must do that for one another.
God puts into our paths every day the persons He desires for us to encounter. We don’t have to go looking. What we need to do is to pray for the grace of eyes to see as Christ sees. To see my neighbor, to see the person in front of me, as Christ sees them. To be able to see their need and then meet it, right? So realizing what our limitations are, what am I called to do? What’s best for the person in front of me at the moment? I may not be able to help them, but I can know somebody to refer them to. Always in that mutual self-gift. This is what we can do on a daily basis in our own lives, and what we’re called to do, one person at a time.
When we take it into the broader social picture, realize that this really is a forum of evangelization for us, and we cannot evangelize a culture that we don’t love. There’s going to be opinions that we disagree with. There’s going to be views that are objectively wrong and we can’t condone that. We must work to correct those, but we have to do it in a spirit of love. Love others back into Truth.
So discernment in practice. Ignatius tells us, first look at your state of life. Am I married? My first obligation is to my spouse and to my family, right? We have to have that work/life balance. Because my second vocation is what I do and how I bring Christ into the world. Anything else beyond that is extra. We have to make our choices based on that. The demand of love in front of me! Who’s the person that God has put into my path at the moment and how must I love them? In one of his homilies Bishop Vasha, talking about Lazarus at the door, said each of us must ask, “Who’s at my doorstep?”
Finally, what is the need of my local Church? Am I helping to fulfill that need or am I off doing my own thing. That’s something to look at.
“May God Our Lord be pleased and continue to bless our poor work, so insignificant in comparison to what He deserves, but all that He’s asking of us. That’s all He wants of us. And in doing that we will come to union with Him and we will bring others to Him one person at a time. Be what you are supposed to be – a saint! For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
PART 2: LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN… by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Erich Fromm, a modern psychologist coined this immortal maxim: “If you are what you have, and you lose what you have, who are you?” The greatest rock n’ roll group ever, The Beatles, composed a song, “Money can’t buy me love.” Another has offered this pearl of wisdom: “Your possessions possess you!” The Bible, the Word of God, expresses the same truth succinctly: “Love for money is the root of all evil!” Greed, sometimes called “avarice”, is one of the seven Capital Sins. In this brief essay we would like to define Greed, explain its origin, and describe practical steps to overcome this interior attitude that must be overcome if one truly desires to attain to a fully developed Christian life!
ORIGIN! Greed is one of the seven Capital Sins, and like the other six; its origin can be traced back to our first parents when they committed the first sin, known as Original Sin. This sin caused universal repercussions upon the totality of the human race. It’s like a tsunami of immorality, set off by two people but influencing everyone in the human race (except Jesus and Mary). The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, calls it “concupiscence”— the interior tendency, proclivity or inclination that pulls or tugs us toward evil or sin!
DEFINITION! Greed is the disordered desire for material things. The Book of Genesis constantly reminds us that all of creation is “good.” The evil is not to be found in the reality of creation, but in the human heart’s disordered desire for it! Actually, two of the Ten Commandments refer directly to Greed: the 7th, “Thou shalt not steal”, and the 10th, “Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s goods.”
A rich young man who knew the Ten Commandments approached Jesus and asked the Lord the way to eternal life. Jesus told him to obey the Ten Commandments; this he claimed he had done. Then Jesus looked at him with love and challenged him: “If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have, give it to the poor, then come and follow me!” The young man’s face fell and he left the Lord sad. The reason? His possessions, possessed him! He had many possessions and was overly attached to them, preferring them to the Person of Jesus Christ! Never again does he appear in the Gospels!
In a society that has an over-abundance of things, becoming inordinately attached can happen almost imperceptibly, like a frog slowly boiling in a pot of water as the water is being heated to the boiling point!
Judas Iscariot fell in love with money and fell out of love with Jesus Christ! Ananias and Sapphira, husband and wife, whom we find in the Acts of the Apostles, were infected with greed and were struck dead for lying to Saint Peter. At the root cause was their greed, their insatiable desire for “things”.
A striking parable, related to the dangers of greed, is the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man (Lk. 16: 19-31) A poor man, Lazarus, lies outside the gate of the rich man day and night. His body is filled with sores, even the dogs come to lick his sores, and he is dying of hunger. What a piteous state! In contrast, the rich man is dressed in fine purple, and feasts sumptuously at the table every day. Never once does he lift his hand to offer Lazarus so much as a piece of bread.
After their deaths, the Rich man finds himself in torture in the pit of hell and longing for a drop of water to refresh his tongue from the fiery torments. The poor man, Lazarus, rests in heaven in the bosom of Father Abraham.
What was the principle reason for the eternal loss of the Rich man? It was not for anything that he did – (sins of commission); rather, it was for what he failed to do: the sin of omission. His greed blinded him totally to the poor man outside his gate, Lazarus, who was really Jesus Christ in disguise. Jesus said, “I was hungry and you did not feed me; I was thirsty and you failed to give me to drink. Whatsoever you failed to do to the least of my brothers that you failed to do to me.” (Mt. 25: 42,45).
How then can we conquer the sin of greed that might be lurking or hiding in the depths of our soul? Let’s give some concrete steps or advice to win the battle!
1. ADMIT IT AND CONFESS IT! If after a thorough examination of conscience and consultation with your Spiritual Director or Confessor, you have detected greed as an insidious worm gnawing away at your interior life, then admit it, confess it and beg for healing. Jesus is the “Spiritual Physician” of our soul. He has come to heal the wounds of our sins!
2. MEDITATE ON THE LIFE OF CHRIST! A constant and deep meditation on the life of Jesus can help to transform our spiritual perspective, our outlook on life, on material reality, and even the attitude of our heart. Follow this brief thumbnail sketch of His life: born in the stable of Bethlehem of poor parents, spent years working as a carpenter, forty days and nights in the desert fasting from all food and drink, three years without any permanent abode, “The foxes have their holes and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head”, stripped of His garments and scourged, nailed to the cross and abandoned by nearly everyone, dying and giving up almost every drop of His Precious Blood, finally being buried in a borrowed tomb— all of this a summary of the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God!
3. MEDITATE ON THE LAST THINGS! One day I must die, be judged by Jesus, and either Heaven or Hell awaits me. Looking at my many possessions, are they a stepping stone or stumbling block for me to arrive at heaven? The richest man in the world and the poorest man will end up in the same place: six feet beneath the ground! Saint Francis Borgia. S.J., the Duke of Gandhi, admired the beautiful Queen who died suddenly. As he followed the casket of the Queen, the door of the casket popped open, and Francis saw this beautiful woman with her face being eaten by worms! Upon meditating on the transitory reality of beauty and wealth, Francis left all to enter the Religious life, and then became a Jesuit, a priest and a great saint!
4. LEARN TO GIVE GENEROUSLY! St. Paul challenges us to give! “There is more joy in giving than in receiving!” Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who gave all away to follow Jesus in serving the poorest of the poor, asserted: “Give until it hurts!” One of the greatest modern saints, Mother Teresa’s lifelong desire was to quench the thirst of Jesus by serving the poorest of the poor. For her, Jesus was truly present in the “distressing disguise of the poor.”
5. DO NOT WORRY, BUT TRUST IN GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL CARE. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us not to worry, especially about material things – food or clothing. Look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. God watches over them. The key is these words of Jesus: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything else will be given to you.” If you receive Jesus in Holy Communion, then you indeed are the richest of all! Having God living within the depths of your soul is already living out the Kingdom of God that is truly within! Remember: “If God is with us who can be against us?”
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St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA