Thursday after Ash Wednesday
March 4, 2021
Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; Luke 16:19-31
The rich man in today’s gospel enjoyed a good life. He had the finest clothes and the best foods. He had lots of money and he used it for his own benefit. Remember, the Jews believed that if a man was righteous, God would bless him with riches, health, and many other benefits.
Perhaps this rich man was at peace, thinking that God had been pleased by the way he lived. Yet at his gate, there was someone who should have stolen his peace away. Someone who he simply ignored.
The Jewish people were taught that it was a good thing to give alms to the poor, and that they could be forgiven for sins by doing so. The rich man passed Lazarus every day and, as a Jew, his conscience should have prompted him to help, but he did nothing at all.
Because he neglected Lazarus, the rich man was separated for all eternity by a great chasm from the bosom of Abraham. It’s a good reminder for us that our actions each day have eternal consequences.
Many of us lead comfortable lives. Does God see in us any semblance of what he saw in the rich man? How aware are we of the poor or needy who live nearby, those we encounter often right outside our doors here at Holy Ghost? What are we doing to help them?
While today’s parable speaks specifically about the dangers of not opening our hearts to the needs of the poor, I believe it also speaks to the importance of loving all those we encounter in our daily lives, especially those who may look and think differently than we do.
Even in our churches we have our little circles of friends with whom we feel comfortable. Many people tend not to reach out to those who are not part of their circle, as they prefer the safety and comfort of keeping company with those who think the same way they do, those who worship and pray the same way they do.
Do we ignore the stranger who visits our church, or do we welcome him and perhaps invite him or her to share a cup of coffee with us? Do we avoid those in our faith community who for some reason rub us the wrong way, or do we make an effort to examine our consciences to see if it might be us who needs to change our attitude toward those who annoy us?
God commands us to love our neighbors – all of our neighbors – with the same love he has for each of us.
Let us honestly reflect today on what we are or are not doing to help alleviate the suffering of the poor and use the remainder of this Lenten Season to be more generous in our almsgiving.
Let us also examine our consciences to see if we may be ignoring or harboring hurtful thoughts toward those we may not agree with, those who just don’t seem to fit in with our comfortable circle of friends. Rather than ignoring those we may see as being different from us, let us make an effort to acknowledge them and reach out to them in love. By doing so we will surely grow in the love of Christ.
God bless you.