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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Narrow the Gap: The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Narrow the Gap:
The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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September 29, 2019
Amos 6:1, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31

The vivid images in the Gospel compel us to have a visceral response to the gross injustice towards Lazarus, the poor beggar. It reminds us of the complacency that can develop from those who are comfortable; they can move away from the concerns of others. That, at least, is the message of Amos, who cautions against the allure of wealth without responsibility and honor without humility.

It is easy to get lost in the story. I always remember a hospital visit I made twenty years ago to a woman who wanted communion. I read this passage to her because it was the reading for the day. She screamed loudly, multiple times, grabbed me, and held onto me. She said she was suffering from advanced AIDS and the only physical contact she received was from her dog that would lick her wounds. I hear her shrieks every time I read this story. This story pits the wealthy elite against the lowly, yet, in today’s world, this parable may not fit modern day situations. Because we are a caring people, we have set in place many social service agencies and we do our best to provide for people. Many people are generous to those who are disadvantaged and are responsible for others. There’s also an increasing number of homeless people and those who beg on the street, and we are always challenged to choose rightly in the moment. This Gospel is not to shame people into being more responsible. This Gospel is about hearing and receiving the Word of God.

It is true that we will be called to account for the amount of mercy we give to one another, especially to our most vulnerable, and yet we cannot resolve anyone’s problems but our own. We have to check ourselves so that we do not become complacent to the misfortune of others. We need to make sure our attitudes do not look down on those who did not find their way in this life. We are not better people because we have more income, a higher standard of living, or the blessings of education and a good family.

It is best for us if we make connections so that this great chasm mentioned in the Gospel does not widen. We are responsible for closing the gap, and we do it by forming relationships. I may not be able to get someone on the street to live in a shelter provided for them. She has free will and I have to respect her choice. She will know that I donate to shelters and agencies rather than individuals, and perhaps one day, because we are in relationship, she will trust me enough to take shelter and to partake of services designed to help her. But it is good for me to know her name. In the Gospel, we know the name of poor Lazarus, and the rich man in purple garments is not given a name.

The haunting statement from the Gospel is this line, “If the people will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded is someone should rise from the dead.” We are never alone when we are making choices because we always have the presence of the Risen Jesus to guide us. In a time of turbulent world events and rapid changes within the church, we may not know how to respond faithfully. We are not sure who and what to trust, and we rely upon our own experiences. There are two gaps to be narrowed. The first we mentioned, the gap between the wealthy and influential and the poor and the less fortunate, and we can’t forget about those in the middle who try hard each day. The second gap is our relationship with Jesus. He is the one who has risen from the dead. His is the voice to whom we listen. His is the voice you will learn to trust above all other voices. He is the one who knows us and those around us. He wants us to increase the amount of love we donate to this world. We do not have to fear his judgment, but this is a call to get to know him better in this life, so it continues into the next. He will certainly bring us into heaven, but he does want us help close the gap for those who struggle.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Zechariah 8) I am intensely jealous for Zion, stirred to jealous wrath for her. Thus says the Lord. I will return to Zion, and I will dwell within Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city.

Tuesday: (Zechariah 8) There shall yet come peoples, the inhabitants of many cities; and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another, and say, "Come! let us go to implore the favor of the Lord"; and, "I too will go to seek the Lord."

Wednesday: (Nehemiah 2) “If it please the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favor, send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, to rebuild it.” I set a date that was acceptable to him, and the king agreed that I might go.

Thursday: (Nehemiah 8) The whole people gathered as one in the open space before the Water Gate, and they called upon Ezra the scribe to bring forth the book of the law of Moses which the LORD prescribed for Israel.

Friday (Baruch 1) During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed: "Justice is with the Lord, our God; and we today are flushed with shame, we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem, that we, with our kings and rulers and priests and prophets, and with our ancestors, have sinned in the Lord's sight and disobeyed him.

Saturday (Baruch 4) Remember, Israel, You were sold to the nations not for your destruction; It was because you angered God that you were handed over to your foes.

Monday: (Luke 9) Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company." Jesus said to him, "Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.

Tuesday: (Luke 9) On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.

Wednesday (Matthew 18) "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?" He called a child over,  placed it in their midst, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Thursday (Luke 10) Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.

Friday (Luke 10) And as for you, Capernaum, 'Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.' Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."

Saturday (Luke 10) The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.    

Saints of the Week

September 29: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels are long a part of Christian and Jewish scripture. Michael is the angel who fights against evil as the head of all the angels; Gabriel announces the messiah's arrival and the births of Jesus and John the Baptist; and Raphael is a guardian angel who protects Tobias on his journey. Together, they are venerated to represent all the angels during a three-day period.

September 30: Jerome, priest and doctor (342-420), studied Greek and Latin as a young man after his baptism by Pope Liberius. He learned Hebrew when he became a monk and after ordination he studied scripture with Gregory Nazianzen in Constantinople. He became secretary to the Pope when he was asked to translate the Bible into Latin.

October 1: These of Lisieux, doctor (1873-1897), entered the Carmelites at age 15 and died at age 24 from tuberculosis. During her illness, Pauline, her prioress, asked her to write about her life in the convent. These stories are captured in "The Story of a Soul." He focused on her "little way" of pursuing holiness in everyday life.

October 2: The Guardian Angels are messengers and intermediaries between God and humans. They help us in our struggle against evil and they serve as guardians, the feast we celebrate today. Raphael is one of the guardians written about in the Book of Tobit. A memorial was added to the Roman calendar In 1670 in thanksgiving for their assistance.

October 3: Francis Borgia, S.J. became a duke at age 33. When his wife died and his eight children were grown, he joined the Jesuits. His preaching brought many people to the church and when he served as Superior General, the Society increased dramatically in Spain and Portugal. He established many missions in the new territories.

October 4: Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was from the wealthy Bernardone family who sold silk cloths. After serving as soldier as a prisoner of war, Francis chose to serve God and the poor. He felt called to repair God's house, which he thought was a church. His father was angry that he used family money so he disinherited him. He began to preach repentance and recruited others to his way of life. His order is known for poverty, simplicity, humble service, and delighting in creation.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 29, 1558. In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep Choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year, until the pope's death in August, 1559.
·      Sep 30, 1911. President William Howard Taft visited Saint Louis University and declared the football season open.
·      Oct 1, 1546. Isabel Roser was released from her Jesuit vows by St Ignatius after eight months.
·      Oct 2, 1964. Fr. General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.
·      Oct 3, 1901. In France, religious persecution broke out afresh with the passing of Waldeck Rousseau's "Loi d'Association."
·      Oct 4, 1820. In Rome, great troubles arose before and during the Twentieth General Congregation, caused by Fr. Petrucci's intrigues. He sought to wreck the Society and was deposed from his office as Vicar General, though supported by Cardinal della Genga (afterwards Leo XII).
·      Oct 5, 1981. In a letter to Father General Arrupe, Pope John Paul II appointed Paolo Dezza as his personal delegate to govern the Society of Jesus, with Fr. Pittau as coadjutor.

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