When I was Director of the Office of Ministry Enrichment, I attended a 4 day conference at which Cardinal McCarrick, retired Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C., preaching at one of the Masses said: “God takes care of us. Our call is to take care of each other.” Today’s parable and the reading from Amos are perfect illustrations of that charge.
Usually we think the rich man was almost totally unaware of Lazarus. Maybe the rich man wasn’t as cold-hearted as we make him out to be. It is far easier on our conscience to think of him that way, to compare ourselves to him where we came off favorably. But the unnamed rich man recognized Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham and knew his name. So he must have had some relationship with him in this earthly life. Maybe he used to throw a few coins in Lazarus’ direction once in a while, scattering them on the ground for him to pick up, hoping that he would go away. But, Lazarus still showed up on his doorstep time after time. A few coins didn’t take care of Lazarus’ problem.
Maybe we are more like the rich man than we care to admit, living comfortable lives with more than enough to eat, well clothed, driving newer model cars with brand names that indicate we’ve made it, living that American dream, tossing a few dollars to various charities every once in a while, a drop in the handout bucket.
But our call as Catholic Christians is to do more than that, using our time and talent trying to remove the reasons that there has to be a bucket at all!
Maybe Jesus intends this parable for us, the somewhat well-off, we are well-off compared to millions of people in our country and around the world. Maybe the prophet Amos is talking to us, lying on our overstuffed couches, downing various snacks while watching our oversized, flat screen TV’s, drinking fine wine and handcrafted beer while eating good food, not giving a second’s thought to the plight of so many.
“God takes care of us. Our call is to take care of each other.”
And as Amos reminds us: “Woe to the complacent …!”
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 2016