Pastor’s Note

Numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this month confirm what many have known for a long time: The gap between the rich and the poor in this country (and globally) is growing ever wider. There is rage as people realize the deck is stacked.  The indifference of the 1% to the poverty right outside their doors, suck away common decency and common humanity.  Pope Francis calls repeatedly for the followers of Jesus to make some noise in response to the plight of the poor.  In the Joy of the Gospel the pope said, “In all places and circumstances, Christians, with the help of their pastors, are called to hear the cry of the poor” (#191).  And then lay their hands in prayer over that gap. We have a great power at our disposal!

But, but, but, our American dream says we can have it all? Wealth, power, prestige … Maybe It is eating us alive.  The story in Luke’s gospel tells us Lazarus was rewarded by a coming “great reversal” while the rich man suffered permanently on his side of the chasm.  It seems, too, that between issues of wealth, race, political parties, sexual orientation and many others, the chasms are very much a part of our daily lives. The human family is splintered in so many ways.  The divisions isolate us in camps that do not listen or communicate with each other.  Like the chasm in St. Luke’s story, people are impeded from crossing over to the other side.  It takes great courage and conversion.

Lazarus finally found comfort in the bosom of Abraham. The rich man found only torment on the other side of the chasm he made.  The rich man does not even have a name anymore. He begs to warn his five brothers to change before it’s too late.  Yet Abraham points out that the brothers heard the same prophets as the rich man and they didn’t listen. No person returning from the dead would change their minds. If the rich man had recognized Lazarus as his sixth brother and had not been “indifferent” to him, there would not have been a fixed gulf between them.  And this story would have ended differently.

Much to do! We enter the kingdom of God on the passport of the poor.  Where do we hear “the cries” today? What messengers do we ignore?  Prophets for our time implore us to heed the message.  Yet we ignore those begging on our streets and freeway entrances.  God prepares a banquet for us –  that leaves us breathless.  But to stay human, we need to attend those around us with their basic needs.  In that exchange we make a party with a  divine host.  We are all high society in the kingdom of God.  So today, what can we do to reduce these chasms?  Give something away.  Listen to someone you disagree with. Maybe we need a national “chasm reduction day.”  I’m game.

A Gentle Week,
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM

Adapted from Celebration’s Elizabeth A. Elliott, “On Earth as in Heaven.”

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