This Sunday our Gospel and First Reading contain an indictment of the wealthy who isolate themselves from the needy around them. In both readings there are dire consequences to this lack of concern. The First Reading paints a picture of people living in opulence and even debauchery while the country is collapsing around them. Living in the northern kingdom of Israel in the eighth century BC, they will be the first taken into exile by the Assyrians. The rich man in today’s Gospel, who shows no concern for the poor beggar outside his door, ends up in the fires of hell while the poor beggar is comforted in the bosom of Abraham. Both teach us that we will be held accountable by God, the Just Judge of all, for the way we live in this world. The Responsorial Psalm proclaims that the Lord “secures justice for the oppressed.” That justice may not be accomplished in this world, but it certainly will be in the world to come.
These scripture readings continue last Sunday’s teaching about the proper use of material wealth, which we call “stewardship.” The wealthy in the first reading and gospel are condemned not because they are wealthy, but because they have no concern or compassion for the needy around them: the country falling into ruin around them in the First Reading, the beggar Lazarus outside the rich man’s door in the Gospel. They were spiritually impoverished because they had insulated themselves from the rest of humanity. We who have been blessed with material wealth and the conveniences of modern life can fall into the same trap. This we must guard against.
In today’s Second Reading Saint Paul exhorts Timothy—and through him all of us who claim to be people of God—to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” Furthermore we are to “Compete well for the faith.” The reward of such a virtuous life is clear: eternal life.
You recently received a request to make a commitment to the Diocesan Annual Appeal. Through the ministries and apostolates supported by the Appeal, we have an opportunity to contribute to alleviating the sufferings of others by supporting the Church’s charitable works and relief services. We support Catholic education and evangelization, both at home and abroad, which bring the gospel of hope to young and old alike. We contribute to the formation of priests who will preach the gospel and celebrate the sacraments in our diocese and in mission lands, and the formation of the permanent deacons and pastoral ministers who collaborate with them. We support those who assist the diocesan leadership in the administration of the temporal goods of the Church, including the maintenance of our own diocesan Cathedral.
All of us are beneficiaries of the Church’s ministries and apostolates. With gratitude for what we have been given, and aware of our obligation to support our brothers and sisters, let us each consider carefully what we can give to the Diocesan Annual Appeal over the next nine months and make a pledge today. Thank you.
Pray the Rosary for the needs of our diocese, especially for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray for people serving in the armed services from our area. Pray for families, especially those with members who are homeless, unemployed, disabled, ill or estranged. Pray for farmers and all who work in food production; and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.