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Contents: Volume 2 - 26/27th Sunday - C
October 6, 2022

 

  The

26/27th

SUNDAYs

 (C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP - 26th SUNDAY

2. -- Dennis Keller with Charlie - 27th SUNDAY

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP - 26th SUNDAY

4. –

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 26 C 2022

Our readings beg the questions about how well are we living our lives and by Whose standards? Do we live in the modern version of wanton revelry comparable to the selection from the book of Amos? Are we more like the child of God that the excerpt from the Letter of Timothy encourages us to be? Are we oblivious to the needs of those around us like the rich man who ignores Lazarus in Jesus's Gospel parable?

Life gets busy. Life gets hectic. Sometimes life feels close to chaotic or overwhelming. Eternal life is, well, eternal. How can we listen to, truly listen and embrace, the charge from the second reading to keep the commandments as well as maintain the intent of the road map we are given throughout Scripture?

What will it take? Really, what will it take to follow Jesus and be an authentic Christian, even in the midst of life's trials? Certainly prayer is on that list, but what else?

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Seventh Sunday of Ordered Time

October, 6, 2022

Habakkuk 1:2-3 & 2:2-4; Responsorial Psalm 95; 2ND Timothy 1:6-8 & 13-14; Gospel Acclamation 1st Peter 1:25; Luke 17:5-10

We don’t often hear much from the prophet Habakkuk. It might be helpful to spend a few lines on that prophet to get a better idea of the conditions in which he prophesized and what his focus and revelation can mean to us. The prophet’s writing is very short, just three chapters. What is said here is only an overview – it might be well to read all three chapters.

Habakkuk is from the late seventh or early sixth century before Christ. Habakkuk enters a dialogue with God. He is not happy and lets God know his anger. Why do terrible things happen to good persons? What is God’s plan? Does God have a plan for retribution to good persons for the evil they endure in this life? St. Jerome calls Habakkuk “a wrestler with God.” In our reading this Sunday, we hear the prophet’s frustration and anger. “How long, O Lord? I cry for help, but you do not listen!” Is there anyone among us who has not felt this frustration and anger? Who among us dares speak to God in this manner? My friend tells me “it’s okay. God can take it.”

God answers the two complaints of the prophet. The first answer is that there is work being done. It seems strange to Habakkuk that God uses the evilest to punish the merely evil. How weird that God would use evil to cure evil. The prophet demands God explain his strange way of governing the world. That leads to the prophet’s second question. In this work of God, why is the just person, the person of integrity so harmed? God’s answer is that the rash persons, that person who lacks integrity will come to a bad end. It is the end that completes God’s work. It is the person of faith who will triumph. This faith is not the theologically defined faith we might think of. To do that is to miss the connection with the world in which we live and what evil seeks to enslave us. This faith is about faithfulness to the Word of the Lord and means loyalty to God and a steadfastness in living our life. The image presented is reminiscent of Moses during that great battle carried out by Josiah during which the battle went well so long as Moses steadfastly lifted up his arms in prayer. This is the faith of which Paul some eight centuries later writes that the just man is justified by faith – that is, becomes just in the eyes of God and of man. This is achieved by faith that is an amalgam of belief and love as well as trust and confidence amid trials and tribulations.

After this dialogue, the prophet expresses God’s curse for unfaithfulness. There are five curses that reveal the harm done to the faithful, those bad things that happen to the good. Habakkuk addresses these to the conquerors of Israel. Likely these conquerors were the Chaldeans The first is insatiable greed exercised by the wealthy through the oppression of the non-wealthy. The pain inflicted by the search for more and more and yet more wealth is oppression of workers, servants, and families.

The second curse is a condemnation of unscrupulous gain that seeks to eliminate all competition, stealing livelihood from the labor of others. Such evil persons seek to escape visibility and exposure by building enclaves that protect them from even recognizing the pain and the evil their unfair and injustice heaps on others.

The third curse is a condemnation of violence that forced prisoners of war and their families to work to their deaths in the pursuit of gain for their captors. He writes, “people toil for the flames,” that is they work but for the destruction of the evil that enslaves and abuses them. The end result is that the cities and wealth built on the broken backs of those prisoners will end up in ashes.

The fourth curse relates to the cruelty conquerors enjoy watching the pain of the conquered. The loss of dignity and worth of those persons is an amusement for those in power. Prisoners were stripped naked and paraded as sport for those who conquered. What these conquerors practiced will be visited on them.

The fifth curse exposes the idolatry of the conquerors. Their idols, their chosen and human made gods are of no assistance to them. The oracles supposed coming from their silent mouths only lead to destruction.

Even though these curses are directed to conquerors of Habakkuk’s nation, there is food for thought for us. Looking at faith with more practical applications is one of these. Faithfulness to the God who saves us, steadfastness in our dealings with family, friends, even enemies, and treating ourselves, our families, our communities with compassion, mercy, and loving kindness is what justifies us. Were we to live with constancy in the way God has been revealed to us in Jesus, we would know freedom and salvation.

So, this reading from Habakkuk is really about our living our faith not merely as something intellectual. This faith has to do with trusting in God and in responding to God with love, steadfastness, integrity, and concern for others.

The Responsorial Psalm supports that about faith. If we harden our hearts with anger at God for not fixing our lives or the lives of our loved one, we’ll not hear God’s voice speaking with us. We’ll cut off his voice and believe we’re alone in evil done to us by an incomplete nature and the malevolence of evil persons. Hardening our hearts and stiffening our necks against the crosses that come to us removes us from the final part of the vision of Habakkuk, much to our sorrow.

The Gospel fills in the weirdness of Habakkuk’s vision. What is this faith adequate enough to move a tree from its soil into the ocean? What is Jesus’ point in this statement? It is the exaggeration to make a point that he uses this story of the mustard seed. The impossible, that Impossible Dream from the Man of La Mancha, is often impossible for us but with God even that impossible dream comes to fruition. The caution that Jesus adds in the statement that follows we must take to heart. Our relationship with God is not transactional. Just as in Habakkuk, God is working. We don’t have the vision of God; we don’t truly understand his ways and methods. But God is working. We are foolish if we think we can bargain with God – “If I do this for you God, I want you to do this for me.” That’s the message in this story about the servant working in the field all day and coming into the house only to be expected to prepare a meal for the master. Sounds cruel. But in truth we can never put God into our debt. In our faith, in our trust, in our love for God and our understanding of the revelation he has given us in the Hebrew Scriptures – if we hear his Word there – and in the Incarnation of his Word in the person of Jesus, we know of God this truth: God is merciful, God is compassionate; in Jesus God has learned empathy for us, and God holds us in God’s heart (Father, Originator/Creator; Creation by the Word – salvation through the Word – revelation of the persons of God; life giver, guide and advocate in the Spirit). What hits, us, hurts us, encourages us, lifts us up, all this is God working with constantly developing means and help for our freedom and salvation. We don’t need to deal with God. God is the Good Shepherd of psalm 23 – but also the God to whom we cry out in Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me, far from my cry, from the words of my prayer. I cry out by day and there is no answer for me. By night and there is no relief for me.” But yet, yes, yet, God is working, is leading us through the crosses that abuse and harm us: always leading us to the resurrection. Isn’t that the message of Calvary and the inevitability of the empty tomb heralding the raised-up Jesus? Have faith that the Impossible Dream for us is real and achievable through the Lord.

Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

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INDIFFERENCE AND NEGLECT: 26th SUNDAY YEAR C

Amos 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31

What did Jesus do when he was on earth? This question is often asked. The usual answer is that he preached, that he taught, and that he healed. What is often overlooked is that, more than anything else, Jesus mixed with people. He listened to them, talked with them, and shared their lives. Often, he ate and drank with them. Meals were one of the main ways Jesus loved and served people. They still are, for Sunday by Sunday he continues to meet us in our sacred meal of bread and wine.

We live in a time of 'fast foods', an age of 'take-away'. Too often meals are reduced to a kind of 'bun on the run' taken in front of the TV, a kind of 'gobble and go’. We may therefore forget the truth that there is more to a meal in the best sense of the word than mere feeding. Ideally, a meal is meant to be something sacred, a sharing not only of food but also of lives, a sharing that includes welcome, hospitality, and conversation. Ideally, a meal is a sacrament, i.e., a sign and means of God's love, a love shared among people who welcome and treat one another as brothers and sisters, and not simply as fellow human beings.

The story which Jesus told about an unnamed rich man feasting lavishly every day, and about a poor, hungry, broken-down beggar called Lazarus, who lay at the rich man's door, is a sharp criticism. It’s a sharp criticism of those attitudes and behaviour which not only destroy the meaning of a meal but also deeply offend God. For our God is a God who intends that we should share with those in need all the good things that God has shared with us.

At the time of Jesus, Jewish people were taught that any land and any other possessions were not completely theirs, to do with as they pleased. They were meant to regard them as on loan from God and to pay God rent for them, so to speak, by sharing their wealth with the poor and needy persons around them. Unless we realize this, we might be tempted to go easier on the rich man than did Jesus. We might be inclined to see him as just another victim of conspicuous consumption or as a kind of harmless playboy getting his kicks from a good table.

So, we must engage in a bit of ‘unpacking’ the evil that Jesus saw in the rich man and the good that he saw in the poor one. The attitude of the rich man is that of the Miller of the Dee: 'I care for no one, and no one cares for me.' Although he kids himself that his wealth is a sign that he is pleasing to God, his real god is pleasure. When it comes to food especially, he lives for one thing only - to dress up in the finest clothes and to dine daily on the best dishes, the choicest cocktails, and the finest wines, that money can buy. For money and pleasure are his gods, his be-all and end-all.

The flip side of his selfishness and self-indulgence is his behaviour towards Lazarus. It's not that he is actively brutal and cruel to the poor man. It's not that he kicks the poor man away from his door. The problem is his complete indifference to and complete neglect of, Lazarus. So engrossed is the rich man in his world of self-indulgence, that he does not even notice Lazarus, broken down on his doorstep. He does not notice that Lazarus is hungry for even a few scraps of the bread that his rich guests use to mop up their plates. In short, the rich man ignores the poor man at his door.

Lazarus, on the other hand, accepts the bitterness and pain of his situation, without one word of complaint against God, and without one word of resentment and hate for the rich man. He does not let his sufferings drive him away from God, nor dim his hope that in some real way things are going to get better.

There is a wise saying: 'As one lives, so one dies; and as one dies, so one stays.' It's not that God sends anyone to hell. It's just that those who live loveless lives find themselves at the end without love and without God as the source of love. That’s what hell is - a selfish and loveless existence.

So it is with the rich man. He who has lived independently and never needed to ask anyone for anything now experiences such misery that he has to beg for help if only a drop of water for his parched throat. And he has to beg it from Lazarus, the beggar man whom he ignored.

On the other hand, Lazarus is now enjoying the company of true and faithful believers. He is enjoying the happiness promised by Jesus to the poor and needy who never lose their trust in God: 'Happy are you poor; the kingdom of God is yours' (Lk 6:10)

Where does this powerful story leave you and me? For a start, it's a story that goes to the heart of one of our deepest longings, the longing to belong. The writer, Henri Nouwen, often spoke of the value of hospitality, which he defined as making enough space for the stranger in our midst to come into our lives and become our friend. So, the story Jesus told raises the question: 'To whom do we belong?' Are the only people in our lives that matter to us, our friends, our family, and our other relatives? Or does our sense of hospitality take us further?

The story Jesus told raises a somewhat connected question: 'Who is my neighbour?' Are we honestly convinced of the truth that at any time my neighbour is the person who needs me now, the person at my door, the person who needs me right there and then? Is my neighbour, in fact, the Lazarus I would rather not notice, the Lazarus I would even like to shoo out of my life because I find her or him a wasted space, a pain, a nuisance, a burden? Does our neighbour include those desperate asylum seekers now knocking on the door of our rich nation for deliverance from the oppression, persecution, and death threats they are fleeing?

This powerful story of the rich man and Lazarus raises yet another question, this one to us as a group, as a ‘church': 'What kind of church community are we? Do we especially welcome among us those who are in any way poor, crippled, blind, or lame? Are we good news to them? Do we give them meaning, hope, and a sense of belonging? At our shared table of the Lord, do we help them feel wanted, loved, cared for, supported, and healed? Or do we perhaps just come and go, and simply ignore who, what, and where they are? Do you and I do this? Really and truly, do we?'

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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