28 February. Thursday in the Second Week of Lent
To all members of the ACP: You are welcome to contribute Homily Resource material to this website. Two paragraphs are fine for weekdays; a little more for Sundays. If possible, send it to me at least a week in advance of the date on which it applies. Send it to: rogers AT mountargus.ie
Jer. 17:5ff. Blessed are those who trust in the Lord rather than in mere mortal power.
Lk 16:19ff. The contrasting fortunes of the uncaring rich man and his poor neighbour.
First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.
The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse – who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on 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.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ e said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”
In God We Trust
In the curse of Jeremiah and the parable of Lazarus we meet visions of seeming barrenness, of unrelieved poverty. In Jesus’ parable the imagery is set at the gate of a wealthy person’s villa. Inside there is feasting daily, and outside only destitution. After the rich man (Dives) wiped his mouth and hands with a piece of bread, he would toss the bread away, while Lazarus would consider himself lucky to snatch these crumbs to stay alive.
Jeremiah’s life too seemed to be in shambles, for even his own family turned against him. Yet, with his roots searching deeply for God, he became one of the most crucial prophets in Israel’s religious history, and his influence upon the faith of the people was profound. The book of Jeremiah sustained Jesus in prayer and continues to be our source of strength. While Jeremiah considered himself useless (15:10-21), he was supporting his nation into the future. Just as the prophet’s life bore fruit, Lazarus too kept a quiet dignity even though sitting with dogs and begging for crumbs at Dives’ door! Destitution in some cases can destroy the last shreds of self-respect, but in other cases an inner peace can be seen in the bearing of the beggar. There are no jewels or cosmetics to hide or distract from the spiritual goodness of the heart.
Only this interior goodness survives into eternity, as only this sinking of one’s tap root in God’s holy will allows a person to absorb inner nourishment. Changes of temperature, rain or sunshine, floods or droughts, do not destroy such life, for it does not depend upon the surface events. Even if there were visions and revelations, even if the holiest of people like Lazarus returned from Paradise to planet earth, such visions will not bring the recipient across the desert stretch of dryness nor induce him to give up his sham of luxury and his callousness. True, we can ask God’s help in such matters, but basically we pray that our hearts may beat with that mercy which is modelled on the Lord himself.