Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

September 29, 2019 – (26thSunday in Ordinary Time)

Amos 6:1a, 4-7     Ps. 146:7-10     1 Tim. 1:12-17     Luke 16:19-31

Introductory Comments

  • As this year’s Season of Creation moves toward its close, the warnings from the scriptures grow stronger and more dire.
    • Amos focuses attention on those who remain indifferent to the suffering of their sisters and brothers around the planet and promises them punishment.
    • The psalmist again insists that God loves and will lift up the poor.
    • Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, warning that the time can come when it will be too late for our conversion, reminding us to stop looking for some irresistible sign from God but to listen to Moses, the prophets of our time, and Jesus himself, the one who has indeed risen from the dead.
    • Paul urges Timothy and us to remain faithful, living and preaching our faith through all that lies ahead.

 

Penitential Rite Suggestion

(It should be noted that although the Roman Missal gives various optional formulations for the penitential rite, it also allows for “other invocations. These are intended to help shape the community’s repentance” in accord with the scriptural message of the day.)

Let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits, asking to live with integrity the full ecological consciousness to which we are being urgently called for the healing and preservation of the precious Web of Life we have been given….

  • Creator God, You have given us this small piece of Your vast cosmic creation and You ask us to care for the Web of Life within which we live – but this Web of Life is at severe risk at our hands.

Creator Spirit of God, have mercy.

  • Christ Jesus, You remind us forcefully that God will embrace the Lazarus among us, and that the rich who ignore the poor and suffering of our world will be liable to judgment and grief.

Word of God, have mercy.

  • Holy Spirit of God, the true Source of wisdom and understanding, You are raising up people in movements around the world in a mission to resist the idolatry of wealth and consumption, to care for each other and especially those most vulnerable and in need among us, and to work together in the Web of Life for the care and healing of our common home.

Wisdom of God, have mercy.

May God, Creator of all cosmic time and space and the vast Web of Life in which we live, have mercy on us, free us from our sins, and guide us into the fullness of divine Life.                                                                                                                             Amen.

 

Points for Reflection on the Scriptures

  • Today’s readings carry a harsh warning to the complacent, those who go on living well, “not made ill by the collapse” of the their sisters and brothers [Amos], ignoring or failing to see the suffering poor outside their doors [Luke].
    • The gospel parable illustrates Jesus’s belief in God’s special love for the poor.
      • The dogs were far more compassionate than the rich man.
    • In the parable, the rich man ignored Lazarus when he was alive and continues to do so after his death, relating to Abraham as his assumed peer, asking Abraham to send Lazarus as a servant to attend to his needs.
      • From Christ’s perspective, Lazarus is Abraham’s peer and companion; the rich man doesn’t even have a name.
        • Are there people you/we ignore or don’t see, whose suffering we do not feel compassion for, whom we do not recognize as brothers and sisters? Who are they?
        • How might we respond more compassionately to the millions of our sisters and brothers around the world already suffering from climate change, ecological destruction, migration, and poverty?
        • Pope Francis and the preparatory documents for the Synod on the Amazon direct our attention to the indigenous peoples, too often looked down upon as backward or undeveloped, as peoples with whom we must dialogue respectfully and openly because of their long traditions of wisdom about how to live in harmony with the natural world.

 

  • The main part of the story Jesus tells in today’s gospel plays out once it is too late to do anything to change the situation, stirring in the rich man a sense of urgency for his family at home whom he loves.
    • In the context of the Season of Creation and the complex ecological and social crisis humanity is facing, there is still too little urgency for action.
      • The latest warning from the scientific community indicates there is not much more than a decade left for humanity to end the warming of the planet before it is pushed past tipping points that will escalate climate change and ecological destruction and make them impossible to stop or reverse. It is urgent that this be responded to with more meaningful global action immediately.
      • As noted earlier, the Amazon has been developing for 55 million years. It provides more than 20% of the oxygen on which Earth’s Web of Life depends, removes and sequesters countless tons of greenhouse gases that warm the planet, and shapes the global climate. But at the current rate of human demolition of the Amazon rainforest, it could be destroyed by the end of this century. It is urgent that this destruction be stopped immediately.
      • In another alarming example, the ice sheets on the planet are melting more and more rapidly each year now from the rising global average temperature. Scientists point out that there is enough water in just the ice sheet now covering Greenland to raise sea levels around Earth by as much as 23 feet if it all were to melt. The Danish Meteorological Institute reports that in July 2019 the melting from the Greenland ice sheet alone added 197 billion tons of water to the Atlantic ocean.
    • What will it take to stir the strong global response that is urgently needed?
      • Abraham told the rich man that his family had all the warning they needed in Moses and the prophets. Humanity today has all the warning it needs in the cries of the poor and of Earth.
      • How can you be part of the prophetic cry? How can you help create the sense of urgency that is needed over the next ten years?
      • Are there specific things that your community can do to raise awareness of the urgency of the situation and respond to it?

 

  • In his letter to Timothy about how to live in a difficult, even hostile world, Paul urges him to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” [1 Tim. 6:11]
    • In the context of the Season of Creation and the socio-ecological crisis facing the Web of Life, Paul would join Pope Francis in translating the message of faithful discipleship into a call for integral ecological conversion.
    • That message would say, as the documents in preparation for the Synod on the Amazon do, “You, People of God in today’s world, pursue:
      • A global vision and global solidarity that takes in with love and compassion the needs and dynamics of the whole Web of Life,
      • A more adequate understanding of all the links and destructive dynamics within the complex Web of Life that need to be addressed if the human community is to reverse climate change and overproduction and care wisely and sustainably for creation,
      • A rejection of consumerism and the compulsive accumulation of goods and wealth,
      • An embrace of simple lifestyles that prioritize and support human dignity and just relationships for all,
      • A transformation of the destructive global economy that prioritizes and requires ever-greater material growth and accumulation by the very way it is structured, and
      • Ways to overcome the widespread inequality in the human community.”
        • How can you take up this prophetic call? What next steps might you take?
        • What elements of an integral ecological conversion do you feel drawn to and able to embrace and live right now? What elements can your community embrace and live right now?
        • What steps might you and/or your community take to prepare yourself to embrace this discipleship more fully?

 

General Intercessions Petition

  • That we may grow in consciousness of the great gift of creation and in awe and gratitude to our Creator, we pray…
  • That we may be seized by the importance and urgency of the discipleship Christ is calling us to in these times, we pray…
  • That we may grow in openness to wiser and more just ways of caring for creation and sharing it with the whole of the Web of Life in which we live and have our being, we pray…

 

James E. Hug, S.J.