From Our Deacon
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus continues to teach us about the responsibility that humanity acquired since the beginning of time when we were appointed by God as administrators of creation. This means that God has created and designed human beings in a very special way, giving them everything necessary to act as He acts; “And God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” Genesis 1,26. We are not only designed to act like God but rather we are designed to “love as God loves.”
In scripture, we can find numerous passages where God chooses a person and gives them a position of leadership over his people, over his creation. The role of these leaders was to liberate and bring justice, peace, prosperity, equality, etc. And one of the most important responsibilities of these leaders was to be the image of a loving God, just, benevolent and merciful. In the Gospel of Luke, this Sunday, Jesus addresses the Pharisees, one of the groups of leaders of the people of Israel who were observant of the law, and were acting contrary to the law of love.
In this parable, Jesus is not against money, material goods, or a person attaining wealth. From the beginning, God’s nature is generous, and He not only showers us with gifts, but he pours himself out in love on us without limits. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus summarizes the themes of the previous parables in the Gospel of Luke. More than a direct instruction on poverty and wealth, it is a rebuke of the callousness, cruelty, impiety, indifference, and blindness that are the result of “selfishness.”
In the last Gospel, we heard that we cannot serve two masters, that the other master is our “ego.” Saint Francis of Assisi said that this “ego” breaks and distances us from our nature, which is to be connected with God and his creation because we want to possess what belongs to God. The greatest tragedy for human beings is that this “ego” corrupts the foundations of our hearts and leads us to take the attitude of wanting to be like “gods.” This was the evil of our first parents Adam and Eve, and this is the evil of this rich man, who is just an image, that Jesus is using to make the Pharisees see their evil.
Saint Francis of Assisi allowed himself to be transformed to such a degree by the Gospel that he himself became a living Gospel. He also experienced this internal struggle against his own “ego” for a long time. To the point where he completely surrendered to Christ and gave everything, he owned to others. He understood firsthand what it meant that “Christ being rich became poor.” This type of poverty (sine proper comes from the Latin meaning: without owning anything of one’s own) is a frame of mind more than a detachment from the material. First of all, it is recognizing that everything comes from God as a gift and nothing from us. And just as we receive all these gifts of God’s generosity and love, so we must thank God and “share-give” because that is our nature.
The character of Lazarus (which in Hebrew means, God is my help) is the figure of all those who are victims of those who are in some kind of position or power and do not act like God before the helpless. Jesus condemns this indifference and empathy of all those who have been called to continue with the work of loving and caring for their creation. And Saint Paul in the second reading invites us to lead a life of righteousness, piety, faith, love, patience, and meekness. Fight in the noble combat of faith, conquer the eternal life to which you have been called and of which you made such an admirable profession before numerous witnesses on the day of your Confirmation. With this new attitude and transformation in Christ, open the doors of your house and see how many Lazarus may be lying at the foot of your door, needing your help, but above all needing the love of God, which dwells in your heart.
In Christ Jesus, Deacon Salvador Mejia, OFM
Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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