March 16, 2017
Thursday, Lent Week Two
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If we keep assembling with the community for Mass, the Liturgy of the Word assures us that the truth will catch up with us, whether or not we want to hear it. All truth is life-giving, but sometimes it takes faith to accept that. And all truth offers hope, even if at first it discourages us. Yesterday’s reading could have been hard for some priests to hear, especially if they are infected with “clericalism” or
“triumphalism.” Today’s reading might make some of the affluent uncomfortable. But truth is truth, and all truth is life-giving. And all truth holds out hope. (If it doesn’t it is not from God and therefore not truth). If we want to grow through love to the fullness of life, truth is our ally.
Jeremiah 17: 5-10 is litmus paper for true and false trust. “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,” he says. Or in anything created. “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” Everybody trusts in something. Jeremiah tells us to be sure we know what we trust in.
That may not be easy. Jeremiah continues, “More tortuous than all else is the human heart... who can understand it?” The answer is: “God can.” “I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart.” And he helps us to know who we are. He does it, first of all, through his word.
It isn’t that we can understand everything God has written; much less know how it applies to ourselves. But God helps us. “In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks with them.” We aren’t just dealing with written words; God is a living teacher. Jesus promised that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” Discipleship owes more to prayer than to pondering. But they go together.
Luke 16: 19-31 shows us a man who truly did “trust in human beings” — and in all that humans can have and do. He was rich. He thought it was a blessing. And took it for granted — so much so he wasn’t bothered at all by the poor man lying at his gate, He hardly noticed him. The beggar belonged to a different world; not on the same level as his own. This gives us the definition of “rich.”
The “rich” are not those who have money, but those who think money entitles them. To more respect. To more voice in affairs. To easier access. To better treatment, even when it has no price tag. (The price tag is on them; that is what draws the favors). These are dangerously rich. They are “cursed.”
Plenty of rich don’t see themselves this way at all. They are not rich; not in the Scriptural sense. The sign of it is their concern for others.
To “love your neighbor as yourself” means to value all people as much as yourself — and those in your social class. It means to feel their needs as your own. To want to help. To live in gratitude, not complacency. Truth helps.
Initiative: Trust truth. Don’t run from it. Seek it. In God’s word.