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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Amos 6:1a, 4-7
Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10 (1b)
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Luke 16:19-31
September 29, 2019

Amos speaks of those who have “beds of ivory”, “eat lambs… and calves from the stall.”  They have the “best oils.” 

All of these point to people with wealth as they are expensive items.  Thus, they had become images of high status for those focused on material wealth. 

As I have said on other occasions, the things are not the problem.  It is the desire for the status people seek that is the problem.  They make that their only concern.  They have become complacent about others.

That’s why Amos opens this passage delivering the words of the Lord, “Woe to the complacent in Zion.”  The people to whom Amos writes have failed to see the “collapse of Joseph” around them.  They failed to love their neighbor.

For this they will be “the first to go into exile” and “their wanton revelry shall be done away with.”  They will face the consequences of their complacency.

Exile to Babylon came in the 6th century BC but not all learned their lesson.  600 years later Jesus tells the Parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

The rich man enjoyed things that he thinks give him status, “purple garments, and fine linen” as well as dining “sumptuously each day.”

Focused on his status and wealth, he is complacent to the needs of others.  He is so complacent that he doesn’t notice Lazarus “lying at his door.”  He does nothing to help Lazarus who is so poor that he is “covered with sores” and would have been happy just to have some table scraps.

Then, they both die.  Lazarus is taken “to the bosom of Abraham.”  This signifies that he goes to paradise with God.  He goes to Heaven.  Lazarus may have been poor in this world but he receives the treasure of Heaven.

Conversely, the rich man had wealth in this world and made that his focus in this life.  He had received the treasure he wanted.  So, instead of receiving the treasure of Heaven, he suffered torment in the flames of Hell.

He acknowledges he is suffering but he still hasn’t gotten why.  Still thinking as a rich man used to servants doing things for him, he asks Abraham to send Lazarus to him with water to cool his tongue.

Abraham speaks of the “great chasm” that separates them.  We speak of Heaven and Hell as physical places.  As such, we might think of the “great chasm” as nothing more than a large gorge separating Heaven and Hell to “prevent anyone from crossing” in either direction.

Of course, I don’t think anyone in Heaven would want to cross over to Hell.  On the other hand, once one arrives in Hell, they might see the error of their ways and want to cross over to Heaven.

Or would they?

At least would they want to cross over for the right reason?

I can’t imagine anyone wanting to suffer the torment of the flames of Hell.  I stress “wanting” to think about their attitude.  I doubt their goal was ever to end up in Hell.  No, their goal was simply to enjoy life and seek “status” in this world.  They failed to see the bigger picture that there would be consequences to their actions.  They failed to see their faith as a way of life.  I see in that failure a “great chasm” that prevents them from turning to God’s ways.

Do you see our faith as just one component of your life that is just about spending one hour on Sunday in church or do you make faith part of your whole life?

I turn to the beginning of our second reading.  It comes from Paul’s first letter to Timothy.  Timothy had been a disciple of Paul.  Paul appointed him as leader of the new Christian Community in Ephesus.  Paul writes to guide Timothy in his role as shepherd. 

In this passage, Paul did not write about administration or specific leadership skills.  Those certainly would be important but Paul goes back to basics.  He tells Timothy, “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.”  Paul writes about virtue.  Paul writes to encourage Timothy to live out the faith. 

We too are called to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.

Paul writes of the “noble confession” Timothy had made, committing himself to Christ.  This began in his Baptism. 

When we were baptized, a commitment was made to follow Christ.  Most of us were baptized as babies so we don’t remember it.  We renew the baptismal promises when we are confirmed.  We renew them each year at Easter. 

I will end with a question.  Are you a fan of Jesus or are you a disciple of Jesus?

A fan is one who admires someone like a sports star but doesn’t try to be like them in their whole life.  A disciple is a student to strives to learn and live as the master teaches.

So, again, “Are you a fan of Jesus or are you a disciple of Jesus?”

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