26th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr, Mark Gatto
Preached: September 29, 2019
Are you feeling comfortable right now? Well, I am not feeling very comfortable. It seems to me that if we have really listened to these Scripture readings, that they should cause us to be uncomfortable. There is a saying, I believe it was originally used about journalism, but sometimes I have heard it used with the Bible. “It is meant to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”
Well, when it comes to the Bible, we often look for it to bring us comfort. We just pass by or ignore it when it makes us uncomfortable. This parable of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel about the rich man and the poor man Lazarus at his gate, is perhaps the most challenging passage in the Bible for me.
In my life, who is the Lazarus at my gate that I ignore, that I do not notice in my life? What huge chasm exists between myself and the poor within our world? When separations are created in this life do they continue into the next?
Our world has an economic and political structure that results in many human beings being forgotten, ignored, sitting outside the gates of wealthy society.
Who is the poor Lazarus within our world today? So much of the third world sitting at the gates of our rich world.
Within our own community, there are various groups of people that are passed by, including children in poverty, autistic, with special needs. We could say that the environment itself is like the poor Lazarus at the gate of the rich. We do not even notice it being destroyed, do not care as long as I am comfortable.
We have a world with extreme rich and extreme poor, with powerful and powerless.
The rich man in the parable did not deliberately try to hurt the poor man Lazarus. He simply did not even notice him, had no idea he was there. He was apathetic, without concern for him while he had a nice comfortable life. He did not hear his suffering.
Question for each of us. Who do I not notice, who do I not listen to, whose quiet suffering do I not hear?
Right in my own family, your children, your spouse, your parents, do we walk by them each day and not even notice their needs, their hurts, sometimes their quiet anguish. Within our own community, who do I walk by without paying any attention, without any concern? How many seniors who are lonely and need some care.
I have been interested watching Greta Thunberg, this 16 year old girl, speaking out with very challenging words for our world about our need to care for our earth, as Pope Francis says, our common home. She is making some of us very uncomfortable, so she is getting attacked by people who prefer to attack her rather than listen to her message. She is making many uncomfortable. Just like the Old Testament Prophets, like Amos in our First Reading. Like Jesus whose story today would have made his listeners very uncomfortable.
Well, we sometimes do the same thing to the Word of God. It is fine when it is nice and comforting, but when it confronts us, makes us uncomfortable, then we prefer just to ignore it. Sometimes we need to allow the Word of God to afflict us. To take us out of our comfortable apathy and indifference. The parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus should shake us up.
Who in my life, who in this world, are we ignoring, walking past, not hearing their need?