Reflecting on Luke 16:19-31
That poor rich man. Not only could he, in his torment, not get a drop of water from “the other side,” but he couldn’t order Lazarus—now an eternity away from his malicious neglect—to get a warning to his brothers. The same goes for those complacent ones in Amos’ day, eating their rich foods, whiling away the hours on their beds, but not “made ill by the collapse of Joseph.”
The two stories are really telling the same story. Amos was well aware that the gradual weakening of the kingdom of Israel occurred in concert with its attempts to cooperate with Assyria, their terrifying neighbor. Exactly as he prophesied, a full fifty percent of the inhabitants of Israel were either killed, or taken into exile, by the Assyrians in 722BC.
In Jesus’ parable seven centuries later, every day that the rich man ignored Lazarus, dying at his gate, only brought him (and his brothers) closer to their day of reckoning, and the great chasm that would forever keep them from ever knowing happiness again.
It’s all about warnings. We appreciate the Amber Alerts, and even the apps that let us know there are police scanners ahead. But it’s the warnings that we hear again and again that lose their ability to motivate us, as did the words of Amos to the Israelites, who, as he was writing, were within thirty years of never seeing their homeland again.
Next week closes the 2022 Season of Creation, the annual ecumenical season of prayer and action for our common home. As the Feast of St. Francis draws near, we pray for the grace to act on the alarms our endangered planet is sounding.
How are you taking care of our common home?
Kathy McGovern ©2022