May 18, 2016

May 18

May 18, 2016:  Wednesday, 7th week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Cars' tie:  "Driving" out demons (gospel)
  • 'Catcher's mitt' tie pin: "Throw your cares on the Lord" (yesterday's psalm)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season
  • Orange suspenders:  I'm still celebrating the unofficial octave of Pentecost

Listen to music for today's psalm

Pope Francis
Audience:  The lives of the rich man and Lazarus seem to run on parallel tracks; their living conditions are opposite and totally non-communicating: the rich man’s door is closed to the poor man who hopes to eat some of his leftovers.  This reminds us of the Son of man at the last judgment:  “I was hungry and you gave me no food, thirsty and you gave me no drink, naked and you didn't clothe me.”  Lazarus represents the cry of the poor and the contradictions of a world where wealth and resources are in the hands of few.
Though the dead rich man pleaded with Abraham claiming to belong to the people of God, in life he showed no consideration for God but put himself at the center, locked in his world of luxury and waste.  By excluding Lazarus, he didn't take the Lord or his law into account.  To ignore the poor is to despise God!
After death the situation is reversed:  angels carry Lazarus to heaven while the rich man suffers.  The rich man sees and asks help from Lazarus, while in life he pretended not to see him.  Abraham refuses to heed his pleas: good and evil have been distributed to compensate earthly injustice, and the door that separated rich from poor has been transformed into an abyss.  As long as Lazarus was in front of his house, the rich man could be saved, but now that they're dead, the situation is irreparable.
God's mercy for us is related to our mercy for others.  If I don't open my heart to the poor, I'm closed to God too.  When the rich asks that Lazarus warn his brothers likely to meet the same fate, Abraham says they have Moses and the prophets.  To convert ourselves, don't expect miracles, but open your hearts to God's Word and love God and neighbor.  God's Word can revive withered hearts and heal them of blindness, and God’s saving message overturns situations through his justice and mercy.

  • Jas 4:13-17  You're a puff of smoke; you have no idea about tomorrow.  Say, “if God wills, we'll live...”  It's a sin to know the right thing to do and not do it.
  • Ps 49:2-3, 6-11  "Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!"  Nobody can redeem himself; the wise and stupid all die.
  • Mk 9:38-40  John / Jesus, “We tried to prevent someone from driving out demons in your name because he doesn't follow us.” / “Don't; whoever isn't against us is for us.”
    • Creighton:  Jesus is telling us to assume we’re on the same “side” as other good people even if they're not like us; we have to be as open as he was.  We need to find ways in our lives and communities to work together.
    • Passionist:  Let's go beyond the demonic theme of today's gospel, the struggle of good to overcome evil, which Christ wins:  The disciples try to prevent someone driving out demons because he's not a ‘recognized’ follower of Jesus, not part of their movement.  They adopt a judgmental stance, impose ‘exclusivity’ on Jesus' mission of Jesus, and highlight the benefit of being in the inner circle of followers.  But Jesus adopts a moderate and reflective attitude, preferring inclusion, welcome, and collaboration, looking to the heart.  May we not rush to judgment, resisting forces that push and pull us, suggesting a person or view as ‘wrong’ or ‘outside’ of the norm.  May we be reflective, reasoned, and open and give people the benefit of the doubt...
      Pope St. John I
    •  "Anyone who does a mighty work in my name":  Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion.  His disciples forbade someone not from their number from performing a good work in Jesus' name; Jesus responds wisely, "No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me."  We too can get upset at the deeds of others who seem to shine more than we do, yet "love is not jealous... but rejoices in the right."  Envy and jealousy lead us to sorrow over others' good that should make us rejoice; we see the good as lessening our value.  We can overcome envy with the love God has poured into our hearts through the Spirit.  God's love is generous and selfless, wholly oriented towards our good; it purifies us, and it compels us to give generously.  People in need have a claim on us; they're dear to God who created them in his image.  God created us in love for love; we're happiest when we love as he does.  The love and help we show to our neighbor also expresses our gratitude for God's mercy and kindness to us.  Jesus never refused anyone in need who asked for help; may we be kind and generous like him.
    "God never asks his servants to do what is impossible.  His love and goodness are richly available, poured out like water on all.  God furnished to each person the ability to do something good.  None of those seeking to be saved will lack this ability, given by the one who said, 'whoever gives you a cup of water because you bear Christ's name won't  lose his reward'" (Gregory of Nyssa).

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