September 29, 2019 — Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
We have all been given great power by God in the form of Time, Talents, and Treasure. Today’s readings remind us that this power is meant to be used for the greater good. And, that the failure to use our gifts responsibly has eternal consequences.
Our First Reading is again from the book of Amos. It warns of the danger of complacency. “Thus says the Lord the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches…” The Lord says that because of the complacency of the people, “They shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.”
The tendency towards complacency is perhaps an even greater danger for us in the modern age with so many conveniences (fast food, remote controls, Amazon prime to name a few) and so many possibilities for diversion and entertainment (cable tv, laptops, tablets, cell phones, and the myriad other devices we all use).
The Lord’s message could not be any clearer — we must get off the couch and put our powers (the many gifts He has given us) to work!
The Second Reading, from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy shows us how to free ourselves of this dangerous complacency we are warned of in the First Reading.
Paul instructs us to:
- “Pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.”
- ”Compete well for the faith.”
- ”Lay hold of eternal life, to which [we] were called.”
- “Keep [God’s] commandment without stain or reproach.”
Notice how active St. Paul’s word choices are: “pursue,” “compete,” “lay hold,” and “keep” are the terms he uses to instruct us.
Our Lord Himself gives us a very clear illustration of the urgency for us to put our powers to good use in today’s Gospel Passage from Luke. He tells the rather chilling parable of the rich man who ignored poor Lazarus during their lifetimes. At the moment of the rich man’s death, he goes down to the netherworld while Lazarus is taken to the eternal joy and comfort at the bosom of Abraham. The rich man keenly regrets his complacency towards the needs of Lazarus, but it is too late for regret. His choices have played out and now the rich man will face the eternal consequences of his failure to use the gifts God gave him.
Pursuit of God’s kingdom, and care for the poor are not trifling matters. Our Lord makes this clear to us over and over in the Scriptures and the constant teachings of our 2,000-year-old Church. We are free to ignore these matters and live instead for ourselves. But there will be sad consequences for us in the end. And, because we are made for eternity, living selfishly on this earth doesn’t really bring us true happiness anyway.
So how can we use our great powers for great good? By embracing a stewardship way of life. By putting our loving God first in all areas of our lives — in the way we spend our time, the ways we put all of our talents to use, the ways we use our financial resources. Stewardship living calls us out of our comfort zone and into commitment to the Lord and the things that matter to Him.
Let us examine our lives and make any changes or corrections needed in our priorities so that we can indeed compete well for the faith, pursue righteousness and lay hold of eternal life.