He finds a garage sale sign or an antique store something hard to pass up. Little drawers stacked together are always a temptation, as he loves to sort things. Visions of screws, bolts, nuts, nails, and more neatly separated items dance in his head. Compartmentalization may well be the bane of our time. There is a tendency to separate our lives into distinct spheres — work, family life, entertainment, volunteer work, politics, religion. Each sphere has its own rules, its own values, its centers of ultimate purpose and value. The economy focuses our attention on getting ahead, family life centers on providing a comfortable sanctuary for our own, and religion o moral foundations.
Pope Francis invites us to push back against the pressure to compartmentalize. He asks us to take God to all parts of our lives and even into the streets. Pope Francis’ invite finds it roots in scripture and in the modern era with Pope Leo XIII. Catholic social teaching has often been called the church’s best-kept secret. I suspect the main reason Catholic social teaching is not popular is that it is perceived as too radical for many. Why get involved in the world, after all our goal is the heavenly kingdom.
Yet Jesus and the prophets thrust into the world to be its leaven. This week we again hear from the Book of Amos, and he doesn’t mince words in his condemnation of the rich and complacent who trample on the poor. Jesus shares the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
The hearers in Jesus’ time would have been shocked by the ending of this story. In Jesus’ time, to have wealth was a sign that you were blessed by God. Being in poverty was a sign that you were not in favor with God. This was turning the whole world upside down. One’s wealth or lack of wealth was not a sure indicator of one’s holiness.
Through the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, Jesus reminds us that this world is a place where we must respond to God’s command to care for others spiritually and materially. Our faith moves us to reach beyond ourselves. God uses people and situations to challenge our greed and apathy, and we must respond in the here and now.
Today’s parable challenges us as a One in Christ Catholic Community. Who are those in need at our door? How do we care for others spiritually and materially? Jesus’ command to us – Be actively involved. We cannot alone fix all the world’s ills, but we can make a difference in our spheres of influence.
Our faith moves us to reach beyond ourselves. The love between the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, brought forth creation, of God becoming one like us in Jesus Christ -- true God and true man, and the sending of the Holy Spirit to empower us. Baptized in the name of the Trinity each of us is called to mission. As a parish community we need to help meet the needs of our own members.
Have a peace filled week!