The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pondering the Word (No. 3)

In today's Gospel reading at Mass (Luke 16:19-31), we hear about the rich man who was indifferent to the poor man Lazarus. Most of us are guilty of this at one time or another, to one degree or another. On a global scale, where "the good life" of so many seems to feed off the plight of the poor, surely we must acknowledge that something is terribly, terribly wrong. Justice demands that we all work together toward correcting that imbalance.

As important as relieving the physical sufferings of poor is, however, it doesn't end there. So many people are poor in so many ways--not just economically, but emotionally, spiritually, etc. And we don't have to travel to a Third World country to find them. They are right at our doorstep--in our homes, families, neighborhoods, parishes, workplaces, and communities. What is striking about today's Gospel reading is the phrase: "And lying at [the rich man's] door was a poor man named Lazarus." This is someone the rich man knew. He could not help but encounter him each day as he came and went. The poor man even has a name--Lazarus. The rich man not only declined to share his abundance with Lazarus. Most importantly, he failed to acknowledge him as a human being--created in God's image just like himself. He refused Lazarus his human dignity by ignoring him.

Michael Casey, O.C.S.O, writes in his book Seventy-Four Tools for Good Living that "the poor are always with us: those who seem to have little talent for anything, those with poor social skills, those burdened with mental or emotional disorders, those whose virtue and commitment seem slight. These are the poor in our midst. We are called on, not only to tolerate their weaknesses of body and behavior--as it were, to secure our own virtuousness--but even more to do what we can to make their lives happier and more wholesome."

So, in this wider context, let us ask ourselves: "Who are the poor lying at my door, and how may I help improve their lot?"

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