Reflection: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

 Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – Am.6:1,4-7; Ps.145; 2nd Reading – 1Tim.6:11-16; Gospel – Lk.16:19-31]

For our reflection today, Jesus makes use of a parable which is a very effective teaching method, often used in his teachings, because those listening to him could better remember and understand the message he is trying to convey.

Jesus speaks about “a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day” and contrasts that with “a poor man called Lazarus, laying at the rich man’s door, covered with sores, and who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table…” and Jesus highlights the differences between these two men not only in their earthly life, but also in their afterlife (i.e. at the bosom of Abraham).  Jesus says that “the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham” [Up in heaven] whilst “the rich man also died and was buried” [‘Six feet under’] where he was, in contrast, tormented in Hades.

The rich man struggled to understand why this was happening because he still thought that in the afterlife he could continue to order and lord over the others as he used to because he had money in his earthly life!  In fact the rich man, who during his physical life never helped Lazarus (“who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table”) now wanted to be helped in his afterlife where he was “in the agony of the flames”.  Abraham’s response puts the rich man back to his senses and reminds him that if that was what used to happen “in his life”, it is no longer the case “now” in his afterlife.  Abraham reminds the rich man that what seemed to be (and for the eyes of the world, they were) good things, came his way while he was in the world; and how bad things (and again, for the eyes of the world, they were) came the way of Lazarus.  In contrast, Abraham reminds him that now in the afterlife “Lazarus is being comforted … while he, the rich man, is in agony”.

All this happened because the rich man, who does not have an identity (we do not even know his name), has put all his trust in his (earthly) riches, that pass away with this world, while Lazarus had the support of Abraham who is on the side of the poor. While they were still alive in this world, there was always the chance to change one’s trust from one side (trust in money) to the other (trust in God) or even the other way round; but in the afterlife, the chance to change will cease to exist because the afterlife is the result of the culmination of how one has lived his physical earthly life.  The rich man’s response is the request to warn his brothers about this but Abraham declines the rich man’s request and reminds him that his brothers have Moses and the Prophets to listen to.  When the rich man tells Abraham that his brothers will certainly repent if someone comes to them back ‘from the dead’, Abraham simply replies that they will not because if they were not ready to accept the Law and the Prophets (who already spoke about the one who was to return from the dead), they will certainly not accept the one who actually will return from the dead … i.e. Jesus, the Lord.

We too have the Law and the Prophets … and even someone who has returned from the dead i.e. Jesus … but do we believe what they have said about Jesus to be able to accept and believe in him?

“Lord, before you came to be the Emmanuel, the God with us, you gave us the Law and the Prophets who spoke about your presence amongst us.  Give us the wisdom that we need to accept what is written in the Law and the Prophets about you and accept You as God with us.   Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

 

 

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