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Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Homily - The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading - Amos 6:1, 4-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):7-10 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9
The Gospel According to Luke 16:19 - 31 ©


Listen to the prophet. His words were never more true than they are today:

Woe to you Israel.

Woe to the callous hearted, woe to those who cannot see God looking back at them through the eyes of their neighbor, through the iron slats of the fences they build to divide us from one another. Woe to those who cannot see God in the faces of your brothers and sisters living in the occupied territories of Palestine.

Woe to powerful, woe to those who deny justice to the oppressed.

Consider this:

God is the author of our salvation, there is no other. Do not trust in the power of princes and kings, they will not deliver you, and God is neither a respecter of persons, or of nations.

The life of a human being, of all human beings, the time of humanity on Earth is little more than a brief flash in the night. We are born, we breathe and we are gone.

 The Earth itself will not survive the sun.

Consider the words of the prophet, and the teaching of Jesus who points to the way; happy are those who assist God in the divine work of mercy and justice:

Lift up the oppressed,
          Wherever they are
Feed the hungry
Free the prisoner
Teach the ignorant,
          Wherever they are

Advocate for those who need an advocate, care for those who cannot care for themselves. Find those who are lost in their wickedness, and bring them home.

The Church began to deviate from the way on the day it was founded. As soon as Jesus died, before Christians were even called Christians the falling out among them was intense. It was immediate.

The Church was divided in doctrine, concerning questions about the truth, regarding the knowledge of God, the possession of riches and the distribution of alms.

It was like any other human institution, because it was just another human institution.

The epistle from today exemplifies this. It promotes the lie that the rewards of the faith are transactional; if give your wealth to the church, you will have a reward in heaven.

Be mindful!

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather, it is the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

For Christians; Jesus is the shepherd, and the Shepherd is God; the creator of the universe.

There is just the one shepherd; just the one sheepfold and whether it make sense to us or not, whether it contradicts the teaching and the tradition of the Church, it is to the one Shepherd that we all belong.

Know this!

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text, with how the shepherd speaks to your sister or your brother, to your neighbors or the stranger. The shepherd is speaking to them to, and they are listening as they are able (or willing).

Everyone that is, everyone without exception follows in the way of God, there is no other way. Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey that another person is on, God is guiding them, just as God is guiding you.

If you resist, God will be patient, God will wait, just as God waits for everyone. God, Jesus, the shepherd, they speak to us of love, they are love, like love they are patient and they are kind.

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God. No matter what; God is with us, because there is not place, not a single place where God is not.

Remember this!

Jesus is not a lord. He was rich in spiritual gifts, he shared those gifts with many, with all whom he encountered and in sharing he became richer in those gifts.

He was our friend, he lived with us as a friend, spoke to us as a friend, loved us as a friend, and died for the sake of his friends.

Remember that as you read the scriptures and be on the look out for those passages in scripture which contradict that fundamental truth, such as the reading for today.

The reading from Luke is not a parable, it is not meant to teach anything but fear. It is given as a means of justifying a denial of charity to those whom the first Christians, especially in those communities outside of Palestine, in their desire to excluded from the good works of the way, something Jesus himself would never have done.

These are the clues by which we can see that this is a false interpretation of Jesus’ teaching.

The writing is heavily mythologized, representing imagery of the afterlife, depicting Lazarus in the Bosom of Abraham (imagined here as an analogy for Elysium), the abode of the blessed dead. Be mindful of the reference to Hades, and the description of a gulf between it and the blessed realm.

Understand that Jesus did not speak in concrete terms regarding the afterlife.

Another clue is in the way that the author riffs on the name of Lazarus, which is the name of a man who we know Jesus loved. The author builds up the narrative in a way that draws a clear connection between Lazarus and the tales of the Syro-Phoenician woman, who also, like a dog, asks for scraps at the table of Christ.

In this way the author connects everyone who his contemporaries viewed as an outsider; seeing them as such on the basis of nationalism and ethnicity, to Lazarus who was beloved by Jesus; and was the man for whom Jesus wept, who he raised from the dead.

The central message of the reading provides the final clue. The message that is given is that Jesus is content to let people die in their sins, suffer in eternity, and never have recourse to salvation. This message is in stark contrast to his teaching on love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Be mindful of the way the prejudices of human beings, they were no different in the era when the Gospels were first written, when they were allowed to creep into the narrative of Jesus’ life and to rob us from the truth.

First Reading - Amos 6:1, 4-7 ©

Woe to Those who Live in Luxury

The almighty Lord says this:

Woe to those ensconced so snugly in Zion and to those who feel so safe on the mountain of Samaria, those famous men of this first of nations to whom the House of Israel goes as client.
Lying on ivory beds and sprawling on their divans, they dine on lambs from the flock, and stall-fattened veal; they bawl to the sound of the harp, they invent new instruments of music like David, they drink wine by the bowlful, and use the finest oil for anointing themselves,
but about the ruin of Joseph they do not care at all.

That is why they will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):7-10 ©

My soul, give praise to the Lord.


It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
  who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
  the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.


It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
  who raises up those who are bowed down.
It is the Lord who loves the just,
  the Lord, who protects the stranger.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.


The Lord upholds the widow and orphan
  but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
  Zion’s God, from age to age.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.


Second Reading – 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ©

Do All that You Have Been Told, Until the Appearing of the Lord

As a man dedicated to God, you must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called when you made your profession and spoke up for the truth in front of many witnesses. Now, before God the source of all life and before Christ, who spoke up as a witness for the truth in front of Pontius Pilate, I put to you the duty of doing all that you have been told, with no faults or failures, until the Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who at the due time will be revealed by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal, whose home is in inaccessible light, whom no man has seen and no man is able to see: to him be honour and everlasting power. Amen.

Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

Alleluia, alleluia!

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice,
says the Lord,
I know them and they follow me.


Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus Christ was rich,
but he became poor for your sake,
to make you rich out of his poverty.


The Gospel According to Luke 16:19 - 31 ©

Dives and Lazarus

Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

  ‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

  ‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them..” “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”’

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

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