Pastoral Sharings: "Dives and Lazaras"

WeeklyMessage Father James Gilhooley
September 29, 2013
Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

26 Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 16:19-31

The rich man of today’s story was “a winner in this life,” 
  says James Tahaney, “and a loser in the next.”

Dogs and cats in the United States eat more nutritious food than do the homeless in refugee camps in the third world. That chilling information is reported by The New York Times.

What a masterful storyteller and wordsmith the Master is. It boggles the mind to reflect how much He was able to squeeze into twelve verses. He is a teacher par excellence.

For openers, the Christ tells us that there is clearly survival after death.

Incidentally, we are fortunate enough to have forty parables. And this is the only one where a principal is named. The poor fellow is the famous Lazarus. His poverty ironically enough has won him more than a measure of immortality. The rich man is without a name. Perhaps Jesus intended that you and I should offer our names to the wealthy individual of the tale. After all, we live in a nation which controls a good portion of the world’s resources.

Secondly, this parable informs us that some of us will live in bliss after our deaths. We shall sit in God’s lap eating fresh strawberries out of season. We shall live in a comfort which is even beyond the state of the art.

Unhappily some of us shall go to that other place. You might call it the pits. There we will find neither room service nor terry cloth bathrobes. Rather, we shall sit clutching our heads and weeping for our miserable selves.

Polls show that many of our company do not buy hell. Unhappily there is one serious problem with that conviction. The Son of God did. He referred to God’s punishment and the existence of hell about ninety times in the Gospels. It is important to reflect that God does not send us to hell. It is we who dispatch our unhappy selves.

Thirdly whether we shall ride first class on the posh Orient Express or as a bum on a freight train depends on our conduct in the here and now.

The rich fellow wound up sweating excessively in hell not because he was bad or mean. Remember he let Lazarus sit at the front door of his mansion. He permitted him to check out his garbage cans for his food. You and I might well have called the cops and had them haul Lazarus away.

Rather, the wealthy man did nothing to help Lazarus. He simply stepped over him and ignored him. He allowed the poor fellow to blend in with the decor. So, we do not have to be genetic scientists to make some elementary deductions. After our respective deaths, it will not be sufficient to say, “O God, behold a person who has done nothing wrong.” God will impatiently brush that statement aside. We will hear Him ask, “Spare me that tired line. Tell me of the good you have done.”

Fourthly after death our life will forever flash before us. The millionaire was able to review his life with much pain and remorse. He constantly told himself, “Yes, of course, I should have helped that fellow. I could have given him at least a small portion of my wealth.” The line he will mumble over and over again is that of Robby Burns, “The saddest words of tongue and pen are these: it might have been.”

Fifthly the place we ship out to after death is the last stop. There will be no Claude Rains of Casablanca fame to arrange an exit visa even to a Foreign Legion fort. We learn this from God’s refusal to send Lazarus down into the pits with a six pack of cold beer. Any bottle we get down there will have a hole in the bottom as well as the top.

Sixthly (is there such a word?) God does not intend to take extraordinary means to acquaint us with the rules of the contest. Obviously He feels that we will find all the information we need in the Gospels. We learn this from God’s refusal to allow the rich man to fax a message to his brothers to shape up and fly right.

One does not hear today about the six truths contained in this centuries old tale. Yet, though we may be too inhibited to speak of the last four things – death, judgment, heaven, hell, – Jesus the Christ is not.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
September 29, 2013

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 16:19-31
Gospel Summary

Today’s gospel passage contains Jesus’ story about a rich man who dined sumptuously each day and Lazarus, a poor man, who would gladly have eaten the scraps from the rich man’s table. When the poor man died, angels carried him to the bosom of Abraham. When the rich man died, he found himself in the netherworld of torment. He was, however, able to see Abraham with Lazarus in a place of honor at his side. The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus so that he might give him a drop of water to relieve his suffering. Abraham replied that this was no longer a possibility.

Dives, the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Beggar
The gospel of Luke, chapter 16, tells the story of the Rich man and the Beggar, Dives and Lazarus.  This parable shows how some choices we make lead to addictions that can determine even our eternal destiny.  Gluttony, one of the 7 Deadly Sins, is a poison that has an antidote — the Cardinal Virtue called Temperance or Moderation.

26th Sunday: The Responsible Catholic
“Woe to the complacent in Zion, who enjoy a luxurious life but do nothing about the collapse of Joseph.”  What is the prophet Amos speaking about in today’s first reading?  What does he mean by the complacent in Zion? The word complacent is defined as smug and uncritically satisfied with oneself or one’s achievements.  The complacent in Zion enjoyed their lives and were only concerned with themselves.  They were like the rich man of the parable in today’s Gospel.  He enjoyed his life,  but he was completely detached from the needs of anyone else.  He saw the poor beggar, Lazarus, at his door, but he did not even consider the man’s plight. He did not  recognize the responsibility he had towards anyone…..else.

The Hidden Rebellion
Why would a successful producer with 16 years of high-level experience and an offer to become the lead production manager for one of the most prominent major global media outlets suddenly give his notice?

It’s the same reason an award-winning director with a number of projects (and–even more time-consuming–a number of kids) would pick up and travel to France and volunteer his time, talent and treasure: For the cause of liberté.

Theology of the Face
The truth of the body is the best weapon to combat the culture of pornography, according to Blessed John Paul II’s Catechesis onShroud of Turin  Human Love (popularly known as the Theology of the Body). Our pornified culture teaches that different parts of the body are interchangeable and exist primarily for our own pleasure. The emphasis is placed upon body parts, normally divorced from the face, or at least subtly de-emphasized from the face.  Society says there are certain things which are “hot”.

Of Wedding Bells and Baby Booties: 10 Reasons to Have Kids Early in Your Marriage
It’s amazing how you can go from normal gal to alien life-form in a microsecond when you announce to others that you are pregnant after being married for a year or less.  Some people go as far as to allude that you’re throwing your marriage away or signing your own social life’s death certificate before you have had a chance to ‘really live.’ This situation only dramatizes itself further if you’re in your twenties.

One thing is certain: having a baby changes everything. Whether this change is for better or for worse—that is the question.

When Were Joseph and Mary Married?
When the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary and declared unto her that she was called to be the Mother of God, as we see recorded in Luke 1, her response would become the cause of the spilling of a whole lot of ink over the centuries: “How shall this happen, since I know not man?” (v. 34, Douay Rheims, Confraternity Edition).

Pharaoh’s Daughter
In Exodus 2, the Bible points out that Moses’ parents were Levites. The tribe of Levi would be chosen to perform holy service and they would be set apart by God for His service. I doubt the Levite was certain of his own survival let alone that he was destined for the salvation of Israel out of the bondage of slavery. Moses’ mother set him adrift in the Nile seemingly leaving him to his fate. But if you notice, she courageously took every precaution to ensure his survival and left the rest in God’s hands.

Yay! Benedict writes again! (9 things to know and share)
Pope Emeritus Benedict has kept a low profile since his retirement, but he has released a new and extremely interesting letter.

In it, he takes an Italian atheist scholar to task.

Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

Does Anyone Really Reject God?
Kyle has written another post on hell, this one dealing with what he says, with at least some degree of accuracy, is the historically common belief among Catholics that many people will go to hell while few will be saved. (Personally, I have no opinion on the question of what ratio of people will go to heaven and hell, and other than warning people away from the one and towards the other, I can’t really think why one would have much of a position on the matter.)

How to Hear God Speaking to You
Many people never listen to God because they are not aware that He speaks to them. Yet, God does speak. One way to live in His presence is to acquire the habit of recognizing His voice when He speaks. If we do not know that God wishes to communicate with us, or the ways He has chosen, then our passage through life will be devoid of the most perfect of guides.

No Obedience No Heaven
Where there is no obedience, there is no virtue; where there is no virtue, there is no good; where there is no good there is no love; where there is no love, there is no God; and where there is no God, there is no Paradise”  – St. Padre Pio

Identity – What We DoChanges Who We Are
This thing about identity – there’s more here than meets the eye, more here than most psychologists talk about, more here than we can understand, and what I’m going to present is more questions than answers. But I think it’s a profound point, so I’ll say it. This point that our very selfhood is by nature unstable and in question, this is a point that flabbergasts and discombobulates many people, something like Plato’s theory of forms in metaphysics. The point is that the human self is not a given, an object, an essence, whose essential nature is unchangeable and guaranteed, like everything else in the cosmos.

Love Beyond Words
Recently I was asked a question which I’ve been asked before and always sort of bothers me. While on a Confirmation retreat, a high-schooler said to me: “Why do you believe in God?”

New Bridgeport Bishop Calls for No Catholic Left Behind
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Newly installed Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport told his new flock to “leave no one behind” and build bridges with non-Catholics and those who have left the Church.

If You Don’t Agree with the Catholic Church, Why Teach the Faith?
We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. We want a religion that is right where we are wrong. We do not want, as the newspapers say, a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world. -G.K. Chesterton

Knox Answers: If the CatholicChurch is True, why all the Sinners?
Monsignor Ronald Knox is one of the great yet unheralded Catholic thinkers of the early 20th Century. Apart from being a writer of mystery novels, he was also a distinguished theologian and a scripture scholar; he even published his own translation of the Bible after years of study and work.

How do you carry your cross?
Not too long ago, I heard the question: how do you choose to carry your personal cross? Below is my reflection on it.

Some people carry their cross straight like Jesus did and others carrier it sideways. If you carry your cross like Jesus did, you will carry it with faith, hope, and love. The opposite is true if you carry your cross sideways.

The Importance of Having Children at Mass
One Sunday a while back, a family of five filled a pew at church near where I was sitting during Mass. That family grabbed my attention.

The pew was much larger than needed to accommodate a regular group of five. But this family, in addition to the two parents, included three young children. Three energetic, rambunctious young children.

Why the Incarnation Matters
But this I have against you, that you have forgotten your first love.”  (Apocalypse 2:3)

When it is asked what the biggest problem in the Church is, people respond in a variety of ways.  Various Catholics cite the loss of the sense of sin, loss of the dignity of the human person, the dictatorship of relativism, too much legalism, etc.  While these are problems, they are but symptoms of a much greater disease.  The disease is a functional denying of the Incarnation.

What Happens to a Church When the Members Won’t Grow Up?
The problem for the Church is … the spiritual immaturity of men and of women in the Church, and the lack of guidance they are receiving on how to grow up to spiritual maturity as Catholic Christians.

What happens to a culture when the men refuse to grow up? What happens when no one is left to teach them how to grow up? What happens when the problem extends into the Church?

The situation in secular America is getting serious, according to a recent book by William Bennett, The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood. 1 Bennett wrote an article for CNN Online, 2 based on his book, and including these observations:

Feeding The Sheep
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

(Jesus) said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

John 21:15-17

Hannah Arendt and the Shadow of Evil
The appearance of an art house film on the philosopher Hannah Arendt has sparked renewed interest in an old controversy.

In 1961, Arendt went to Jerusalem as a correspondent for the New Yorker magazine to cover the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the notorious Nazi colonel accused of masterminding the transportation of millions of Jews to the death camps. Arendt was herself a Jew who had managed to escape from Nazi Germany and who had been, years before, something of an ardent Zionist.

On Reconciliation: Can virginity be restored?
Sometime during listening to Catholic radio archives discussing families, college kids, and the issues of the day, I thought it worthwhile to take a theological look at the question: Can virginity be restored?

Here’s the short answer: If given in marriage, no. If given outside of marriage, yes.

10 Reasons for Priestly Celibacy
To our sex-obsessed culture, priestly celibacy seems a hard teaching of the Church, a heavy burden that must be borne with ascetic grit and iron resolve.

But that’s not how the popes of the twentieth century saw it. In their words, celibacy is the “choicest ornament of our priesthood” (Pius X), “one of the purest glories of the Catholic priesthood” (Pius XI), and a discipline that makes the whole life of the priest “resound with the splendor of holy chastity” (John XXIII).

Two Infaillible Ex Cathedra Definitions I Think Pope Francis Should Make
There are only two streams from which infallible doctrines of the Catholic Church can originate. The first stream originates from the Church herself. While individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, through the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, they do proclaim Christ’s doctrine of infallibly whenever they are in agreement on one position, as definitively to be held concerning a matter of faith and morals (Cf. Lumen Gentium 25). We see this exercised by them more clearly whenever the college of bishops gather in ecumenical councils and issue binding canons.

The second stream from which an infallible doctrine originates is from the Roman Pontiff, as the head of the college of bishops and the supreme teacher of the universal Church,

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