Share the Abundance


Share the Abundance

September 25, 2022 | N W | Deacon Barry, Discipleship, Evangelization, Grace, Mission

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 25, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Am 6:1a, 4-7 / Ps 146 / 1 Tm 6:11-16 / Lk 16:19-31
by Rev. Mr. Barry Welch, Guest Homilist

The parable we heard today is certainly an indictment of the rich man.  But the rich man didn’t really do anything wrong.  He didn’t kill anybody; he didn’t harm Lazarus; he didn’t call the cops and have him sent away.  He didn’t really do anything wrong, but still he was indicted here, and he was indicted because of what he did not do.  In the beginning of the Mass, we recite the Confiteor:  Forgive me for what I have done and what I have failed to do.

When Jesus was giving this parable, the people who were present probably all had a rich man in their hearts – especially the Pharisees, because that’s whom he was directing His message to.  At the very beginning it says “He said to the Pharisees…”

Frankly, there is probably a little bit of the “rich man” in all of us today.  In this message, we have the “literal” or surface meaning:  It’s pretty clear that Jesus is calling out greed, self-importance, selfishness, gluttony, all of those things that are clearly ailments of our current society and culture.  That surface message is a strong lesson for all of us to pray about, meditate on, and to consider in our lives.

Also, this severe contrast between the very rich and the super poor spotlights God’s love for all human beings and also our role in bringing about His love and His kingdom.  I think the riches, the superabundance, the sumptuousness that we see on the rich man’s table in this story represent the grace of God, overflowing.  And it’s available to all.  But do we all know it?  Do we all sense it, feel it, and believe it?

Israel, the people of God, in a very special way were called apart and gifted with the knowledge of this grace of God.  God spoke directly to them; He walked with them, and talked with them, and brought them out of slavery in Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and eventually brought them to the Promised Land.  Ultimately, he made salvation available to everyone through the Chosen People, in the person of Jesus Christ.

The rich man had all of this showered upon him in his house:  the food, the abundance, the overflowing table representing God’s grace every single day – not just Sunday – and yet, he keeps it to himself.  He’s comfortable.  He’s fine.  He’s taken care of.  He’s secure.  Or so he thinks.  But we’re not called to gorge on God’s grace for ourselves.  We, too, have these things, like the rich man had:  We have Moses and the prophets; we have the Word of God; and we have the One who rose from the dead.  We also have the Church and her sacraments.

In the story, Lazarus was close to the feast.  He was right there: he could have picked up the scraps.  There are probably Lazaruses even here in this gathering space or at home on Facebook, poor in spirit and desiring but a small scrap, not really knowing Jesus and His love for them, but do we see them?  Do we even get close enough to know their names, the way Jesus knew Lazarus’s name?  Note that this is the only parable Jesus told in which someone was named.  In all the others, it’s “the father”; it’s “the women”; it’s “the blind man”; it’s “the virgin”.  In this one, Jesus named him, because it’s important.

Then there are those brothers.  There are those who are out there that may not be “close to the feast” of God’s grace:  our friends and family, children and grandchildren, co-workers, fellow students.  After we’re gone, it’s too late; we can’t reach them then.  They have the prophets, they have the Word, they have Moses, they even have someone who rose from the dead, but do they know?  It’s your job now — your job and my job.

We go through our lives in this material world and this Western enlightened culture with it baked into us:  individualism.  It’s all about me.  I have a right.  And consumerism.  I, me, mine.  I worked hard for this; this is mine.  It trains our brains toward selfishness, even with grace, and the knowledge of salvation and the forgiveness of sins.

But here we are, we’re called to come.  We’re here to worship.  We’re not here to worship the priest, or the deacon, or the choir, or the altar servers.  We’re not here to worship each other, or the architecture, or the décor.  Don’t get me wrong:  All of those are very, very important, because every single one of them either represents Jesus Christ or points us toward Him.  They’re all very important.

But why are we here?  We’re here to worship our Lord and Savior:  the One who willingly sacrificed and died on the cross.  We’re here to receive that abundant, sumptuous, overflowing grace poured out on this altar, on this table.  We feed on that sumptuous altar with the Word and the Eucharist.  And then we go out, and we take it out into the world where our brothers and sisters are.  That’s why, at the end of Mass, the very last element of the Mass is “the Dismissal”.  The Dismissal is so important that the Mass itself gets its name from the Latin word for dismissal.  The Deacon, when present, gets the privilege of executing the Dismissal: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”  “Go in peace glorifying God by your life.”  “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!”

Think about that:  At the end of every Mass, we’re given that Dismissal; that call.  Think about how important that Dismissal is.  Because we’re to take those graces – that overflowing abundance of graces – and not hoard them for ourselves but take that abundance and that love of Christ out into the world to our brothers and sisters to make them aware of the knowledge of salvation and the forgiveness of their sins.

There are lots of ways we can do it:  We can do it by words, smiles, hugs, encouragement, our actions, with our love and care for every human, with our charity, and with our prayers.  Please pray – It works!

Certainly, we can help – and we are called to help and assist – everyone in need with physical needs, material needs, medical needs, all of those things.  We’re always called to do that.  Always!  But foremost is to bring them the grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  They have Moses, and they have the prophets, and praise God, they have you.

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