Am 6;1a, 4-7
1 Timothy 6:11-16
“Woe to the complacent in Zion!” This startling sentence is found in the first reading this Sunday. What if it was edited to say woe to the complacent in Pepper Pike, Euclid, Shaker Heights or wherever it is that you live? Could you be described as complacent when it comes to the needs of others or do you attempt to meet the needs of others? The readings today remind us of the human tendency to be concerned with our own needs and interests rather than those of people around us and in the broader world.
The gospel provides a strong example of a rich man who cared only about himself even though there was a suffering beggar right outside his door. The parable begins by setting the context for the rest of the story. “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.”
Both the rich man and Lazarus, the poor man, die. Lazarus goes to the bosom of Abraham and the rich man to a place of suffering tormented by flames. We could say that they both received their just deserts!
This parable is a response to some Pharisees who Jesus seems to say act in contradictory ways. (In the weekly readings he calls them hypocrites!) They speak one way but then act in a different way. Are they very different than some of us? We say we care for the poor but do nothing to alleviate their suffering. We say we are against violence but then we sometimes use violent words or act in less than kind ways. We say we are honest but sometimes stretch the truth or even lie. Can we say we are truly committed Christians who try to act as Jesus did or are we complacent when it comes to how we live our lives?
The parable shows that there are consequences for our behavior. Lazarus suffered from his poverty but was rewarded in the end. The rich man had everything during his life but only took care of himself so he received a far different eternity.
We are told in the gospel that the Pharisees had misplaced priorities. What are the priorities in your life? Are they merely self-serving or do you include others, including the marginalized? Unless we show God through our worship, prayer and actions a deeper love for our neighbor that’s evident through our loving service for others, especially the poor, for the sake of God’s kingdom, then there is a huge gap in our lives that needs to be filled.
What are the most important priorities in your life?
How can you strengthen your commitment to the Christ so as to cast out any form of complacency?