for Sunday, September 25, 2016
Woe to the complacent in Zion! - these words from the Prophet Amos can serve to stir us up a bit on this 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We don't have to become fanatics to recognize that so much of modern culture is about avoiding those who have nothing, avoiding those who are poor, avoiding those who have problems, and so on. Most of us want to feel all right about living in a way that makes us comfortable and in a way that practically blinds us to the problems of so many in our world.
The Prophet Amos is famous in the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures, for poking at the complacent, for pushing those who have too much to help those who don't and for reminding everyone that God has given a way to live and we should follow the Lord. The passage today goes with the Gospel for today: remember the poor because they are always outside your door and the way that you treat them is important for your salvation!
Today's second reading is from the First Letter to Timothy and speaks of the virtues of a good person: "pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith." None of us would argue with such straightforward advice! On the other hand, at times we disagree about what it might mean. Put into the context of the first reading today and the Gospel, it is clear that we must go out of ourselves, pay attention to those who have less than we do and not get so caught up in our own comfort that we forget others.
The Gospel from Luke which is given to us today repeats these admonitions but also adds that even if someone rises from the dead, people will not necessarily listen to him. This is strong medicine because it tells us that even with our faith in the Lord Jesus, we can end up ignoring those in need. Over and over in the New Testament, the Christian Scriptures, we are told that saying nice things is never enough. Our faith in the Lord Jesus must result in actual service to the poor, to the needy, to those who mourn, to those who lack clothes or food or any kind of care.
Not only are we told to love and serve others, we are even told to go to the extremes at times and give more than is asked of us. Loving and serving others must become a way of life for us, not something that we do when we have extra time! We are invited to learn how to follow Jesus! There is no way by which we can ever say: I did what He asked of me and that is enough. No, instead, we are invited to form a living relationship with God, a relationship that is ongoing, personal and loving at every moment of our lives. Our life must become a response to HIM.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Amos 6.1a, 4-7
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 6.11-16
Gospel: Luke 16.19-31
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: