Today’s Gospel: Luke 16:19-31 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I stand in the confessional line scanning my soul for sins — slim pickings, as usual. I wrack my brain for something, anything to confess. The door to the box opens, a penitent exits, and we all move up a spot. Time is running out. Surely I can find one itty-bitty sin. After all, I do have a fallen human nature. At Mass I admit that I have greatly sinned “in my thoughts, and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.” Those last seven words are a wake up call.
Today’s reading is about indifference. The rich man does not see Lazarus at all. When time runs out, the rich man wakes up in Hades, but it is too late. Will Abraham warn his five brothers? “If someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”
Charles Dickens might have read this passage and conjured up Jacob Marley, who rattles his ghostly chains and warns Ebenezer Scrooge to repent. In this parable, Jesus sends no Jacob Marley. He knows that the five brothers are indifferent to Moses, indifferent even “if someone should rise from the dead”.
I think of this parable and reflect on my next-door neighbor. She is a victim of domestic violence. I see her in the driveway. I stand on the porch and shake a dust mop. I start to go inside, saying nothing. Instead, I wake up and shout a friendly hello. I bring her a glass jar of homemade granola and chat, getting up the courage to invite her to dinner. She smiles and gives me a hug.
The confessional door opens. It is my turn. I have much to confess, for I am a sinner, lukewarm to God and lukewarm to my neighbor.
What small acts of kindness do we fail to do in our busy lives?
O Lord, protect me from a lukewarm faith. Awaken me to the needs of my neighbor, however small they might be.
Copyright 2019 Kathryn Swegart
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