“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.
The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’
But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’
He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
My Dad loved classical music and wanted his children to have some exposure to it. It wasn’t forced on us, but in the background of Sunday afternoons he’d have it playing in the living room as he read the paper. It seeped into our souls. Today I play classical music on the iPad as I read the New York Times on the screen. I had a comfortable life then; I’ve a comfortable life now.
Artur Rubenstein, a renowned pianist, came to our city when I was a boy. On a winter night Dad took me and my sister, with whom I shared a seat, to the standing-room-only concert. We were dressed in our best, me 10, she 11, and Dad 38. As we walked to the concert hall from the car I heard and saw a boy, my age, with his shoeshine kit.
He was smiling and offering to shine shoes for a quarter. I wanted to run past that kid for it was uncomfortable. Why him? Not me? Why me, not him? After the concert, he was still there, now begging to shine shoes. He was crying. The message was clear that he had to bring money home. Dad gave me money to give to him. I did it quickly and moved on.
Dad and I gave from our surplus and that was good, but the memory of the boy crying out in the night lingered and lingers on. Today’s Gospel stirs up this memory and a belief held that giving from one’s surplus is good and, yet, this is not enough. A point of the rich man and Lazarus story is to consider ALL the gifts we have been given by God, Our Father, not just the table droppings.
Everything we have is gift to be given away to those whom we know and to the strangers we are yet to meet. The “surplus” and “substance” of our very lives are gifts from Him to be used, to be broken out, to be passed around and shared. Jesus cares for all God’s people through us who are storehouses of gifts.
Whose voices are crying out to me today in need of what I have been given by the Father? How does what I have flow to those in need? What can we celebrate? What are the blocks?
—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.
Jesus, I’m tired of the “lava waste” of my life. Help me these holy days to stop and listen to the music. Water the roots of my heart; strengthen my relationships with your good grace. Make my soul sing in the midst of all the life and love you offer just today.
—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.Please share the Good Word with your friends!