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Twenty-sixth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

25 September 2010

Reflecting on Luke 16:19-31

As I read this story today about starving Lazarus and well-fed Dives, I stop and look out our window.  Rows and rows of luscious greens, bursting with cucumbers and tomatoes and green beans, fill our backyard.  How, I wonder for the millionth time, could Lazarus have ever been hungry?

We lost our clothesline to the cucumbers.

Two years ago we gave our prickly, neglected backyard into the care of an urban gardening co-op called Farmyard. Then we sat back and watched these talented, hard-working young people turn our little yard into the Garden of Eden.  This is the season when God must love to say, “See what I can do?  The earth is mine, and all the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1).

I confess that until two years ago I never noticed where food came from.  And now, one hundred people are eating from the riches of the long-neglected soil just outside our window!  But, since God is so unbelievably generous, why are there still hungry people all over the globe?  For that matter, why was Lazarus hungry in the very same city where Dives was over-fed?  Maybe one answer is found inside the Gospel, where Dives, the former rich man who is now in torment, still thinks of Lazarus as his inferior, one whom God should command down to his netherland to cool his burning tongue with water.  Ha!  We can imagine Lazarus’ response: “Not ‘til hell freezes over.”

The seeds of entitlement, class distinction, geographic advantage are buried right there in the story, waiting for us to notice them and be converted once again to the new heaven and earth that the God of the harvest demands.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

In what ways are you partnering with God to feed the world?

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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Ordinary Time - Cycle C

15 Comments to “Twenty-sixth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C”

  1. Should we talk about food for the bodies or food for the souls?

  2. really like this story

  3. A beautiful reflection on abundance and need…I never can fathom how so many people can go to sleep hungry every night while others (including me) enjoy an abundance of every good thing. WE can never forget our Christian duty to care for those who have less…

  4. waitinginjoyfulhope

    The last sentence of today’s gospel was the clincher for me. Jesus, knowing full well he would die and rise from the dead, also knows that there will still be those who won’t get it even after he rises from the dead. It’s as though wealth can blind us to the blatant needs of others we trip over every day and know by name, as did the rich man but it can also blind us to the power of the resurrection.

    I know in my own life how easy it is to become complacent. It keep my distance, stay busy, uninvolved, write a check and move on all the while telling myself I’m ok even good/great. How often today’s world tell’s us we are ok, everything is great

  5. Three thoughts: 1.) Fr. Mo West in his homily mentioned how the Rich Man was not an evil man, corrupt, immoral, etc. He was guilty of “insensitivity” – – Imagine how our eternal life might be determined by insensitivities.
    2.) The Rich Man’s plea: Not to convince his brothers that there is an after life. The plea is to convince them of the unbreakable link between helping the needy and one’s after life.
    3.) I go serve in the homeless shelter once a month to help feed 500 people not so much “to do this act of charity” but to remind myself that there but for the grace of God go I. I am one pay check away from being homeless. I am one catastropic tragedy away from being homeless. There but for the grace of God… – – – Cris

  6. That’s an excellent point, Cris. I like Fr. Mo’s take on our insensitivity, too. It is an example of our taking blessings for granted, isn’t it?

    I’d like to go back a few weeks to my question about whether God can be seen as a punishing God. This morning’s reading from the Book of Job struck me as a good example of how our own interpretation can put the responsibility for bad things on God.

    Job 1:6-22 — God and Satan make a deal in which Satan is ALLOWED by God to temp Job into denouncing God. God’s only restriction on Satan is that he is not allowed to “lay a hand upon his person.”

    In the end, though, after being told of all the bad events and losses caused by Satan, Job makes the following statement: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” For giving or for taking away?

    Job is the one who gives the responsibility to God for all the calamities he has suffered. Then, he immediately praises God. How do we explain this dichotomy?

  7. It is so very easy to ignore the poor. One thing that helps me is that I have made http://www.thehungersite.com the home page of my internet connection. There, at no cost, with one click I can donate a cup of rice to the hungry. It’s not much, but it adds up over the year and reminds me every day that there are hungry people who need help.

  8. Why did the rich man perish? Because he did not follow the one commandment our Lord gave us, “love one another”.

    To love one another, we mush love ourselves, and we must love God. Thereby fulfulling the first two and greatest commandments of the Old Testament.

  9. Lazarus starved while the rich man was well fed . . . in this life.

    The rich man starved while Lazarus was well fed . . . in the next.

    Who had the better portion?

  10. Donating bags of food from time to time, and not even using my discards, but good stuff from Cosco, etc. when there is an opportunity. There are food drives for fire victims, for example, or at the OUR Center, or Christmastime special collections, etc.
    It doesn’t seem to be enough, in fact, it’s all too convenient, and doesn’t really address my own excesses. I could learn what it truly means to share.
    I heard a homily once explaining that we don’t have to go hungry because there are hungry people, or become poor because they are poor, but (there was a pause, then his voice and facial expression became quite serious, as he emphasized this line: “We DO NEED to SHARE what we have.”) I took it to mean not the way I do it, which I consider “charity”. Why am I beng so cynical? I do take time, sometimes a whole half day or more, gathering and organizing things to give, driving there and leaving the stuff. Why be cynical about what I and others do contribute? I think it’s because it’s not enough for what I want to do for people living under conditions of depravation and disaster. This “charity” as I call it, is too separate from the people all over the world that I read about, hear about and ARE AFFECTED BY, that call out to me, FOR A DAY, OR MAYBE A WEEK OR SO, AT A TIME.
    Well, at least I hear them calling later again. But I say in the back of my mind, someday, when my life gets organized, and the ones nearer and dearer don’t need so much from me, I’ll do more. But do they really need so much? Or can we all share?

  11. I guess my mind is an enigma…since reading this question and Kathy’s story about the garden on Saturday, I’ve been thinking about water. Less than 3% of the earth’s water supply is usable by humans, and a large proportion (69%) of that supply is used for agriculture. 80% of disease in 2/3 of the world is related to poor drinking water and sanitation, and 1/3 of the world’s households go out of their homes, walking as much as a mile, to acquire this water due to lack of infrastructure. Yet, here our consumption is so great in comparison, that one flush of the toilet uses as much water as developing countries use for a whole days drinking, cooking, washing and cleaning. So, I was so focused on the excessive consumption of this country that I just thought about our selfishness. Being environmentally conscious, using less water, working to prevent contamination of the water supply that is shrinking, donating to Catholic Relief Services to help with establishing infrastructure for water supplies in other countries was foremost in my mind.
    As President of Council for Catholic Women – AD Denver, I see many women invested in doing the little things, together, that will hopefully bring some relief to those in need. So, just each day doing a little thing that helps; a bag of food to church, cooking and serving for various food lines, buying a meal for someone on the streets, and giving up a bit of the consumption is all any of us can do. And hopefully, in the process, spreading the awareness and the love across the universe. No one individual can turn it around, but with all of us together we have a chance.
    Sorry for the wordy response!

  12. What wonderful, informative contributions this week. Thank you, everybody. Does anyone want to engage Brebis’ question that she posed about Job?

    I hear from many people who haven’t contributed yet how much they enjoy the conversation that takes place here.

    Thank you!


  13. Sometimes my mind takes off in its own direction, and I seem to have no control over what it produces, so I offer apologies for the previous post. But,speaking to Brebis’ question about Job, I can say that my own family is struggling with some of this right now. My 34 year old niece was given 3-6 months to live as a result of metastatic malignant melanoma this past week. She has a husband and three children, has lived a loving, consciencous and responsibile life as wife and mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece and friend. To add to the mess, her brother died a year and a half ago. These are the only two children my sister had. So, my daughter questioned me last night about how we can believe in God’s love and mercy when something so totally unexplainable and unacceptable happens to a good person. Her question centered around “if God has a plan for us all, why do these things become part of the plan.” As I struggle with my own grief, the words to help her seem not to penetrate: that God doesn’t have a blueprint for each of us; only a plan that we will be happy and have fullness and abundance in our life. What that abundance may be isn’t always monetary; perhaps it’s that she has lived a life filled with love from her friends and family, has accomplished her dream of having children, and has loved them unconditionally. Why these ugly cancer interlopers change the course of life for some at a young age is beyond comprehension. But, a physician who advised her that all the original tumor was removed, and that there was no need for follow up made a mistake. The human aspect of this life brings awful suffering, but the only way one could possibly blame God for this is to lay the blame on his decision that humans would be flawed and imperfect. Also, that we have free will, and sometimes make faulty decisions leading to tragedy. But, like Job, all we have is our faith in God’s love and mercy. Certainly, like Job, we question things which have no answers, we struggle with the consequences of an imperfect life, and ask God to give us strength to bear it all. So, we THANK God for giving us Renay, with her quirky humor, her strength and compassion, her great love for her family. I am looking for direction on how to thank him for TAKING her away. She has suffered so many losses in her short life, perhaps it is that her struggles and pain will be ended when her life ends. But, I’m like everyone else: it’s going to take time to work through it and come to some reasonable acceptance.

  14. Awesome; I love you two! If that garden isn’t a holy representation of Mary’s nurturing care, then I don’t know what is. Perhaps in her infinite wisdom and abundant love the Virgin Mary appears to us today in the form of “mother earth.” What a beautiful apparition to behold!

    I think our community will have to borrow some of your urban farmers though. In collaboration with several of Colorado’s food banks and inner city youth programs, we have been attempting to grow an abundance of fruit and veg. to benefit families/individuals who find themselves living in “food deserts.” As rates of obesity and Type II diabetes rapidly grow among the poor, it seems only right that everyone (regardless of income) should have equal access to healthy food. This is our first year making full use of our hydroponics system and, suffice it say, it is still in need of a bit of fine tuning: calling all worms…. 😉

  15. Hi everybody,

    Just a note of thanks, again, for the great contributions this week. This column hit a record number of readers and contributors this week. That Lazarus and the Rich Man story always hits its mark, doesn’t it?

    And Lee, our hearts break with yours. What a tragic, tragic event in the life of your family. Your niece sounds so dear. Let’s all keep her at the top of our prayer lists in the coming months, and her husband and children and extended family too.

    Peace and grace, and belated Happy Feast Day yesterday to St. Jerome, the crochety scribe who loved the Scriptures, and so do we.


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