Homily for September 25

Homily for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily
(Technical problems with audio - will try to post later)

The prophet Amos has his sight set on the “complacent”

who “lie on beds of ivory.”

Anyone here sleep on an ivory bed?

I didn’t think so -- even if we sleep on sheets

whose thread count is important to us,

beds bedecked with pillow shams, duvets, mattress toppers,

bed skirts and memory-foam mattresses                          

that mold themselves to our body’s contours.

I wonder what Amos would think of all that?

The prophet also had it in for those who

 “stretched comfortably on their couches.”

We do that, too, unless we’re stretching out

on our motorized, heated, vibrating

leather massage recliners.

And like the complacent in Zion we also eat the best of foods,

]the native grown, the free range-raised and the organic,

often accompanied by the finest of wines, even if domestic,

which we drink from the most appropriate of stem-ware,

large bowl glasses for reds, smaller ones for whites.

And all of this we do, as in Amos’ day,

anointed with the best oils:

scented perfumes, lotions, colognes and after shaves.

And while we might be mildly indisposed

by the collapse of the poor, the starving and the homeless,

generally speaking we’re not made ill by these realities

as we spend billions upon billions of dollars

on our own comfort and luxury.

The rich man in the gospel had the same problem.

He dressed well and dined sumptuously,

all the time ignoring the poor man, Lazarus,

who was lying at his front door!

Can you imagine

a poor, sick man collapsing at your front door

- and doing nothing about it?   Of course not. 

Even if you didn’t invite him in,

even if you didn’t go out to help him,

you’d at least call the police and get the man some help.

But the question for us is this:

how do we define “front door?”

Why are we often moved to respond only in proportion

to the proximity of those who are in need of help?

And what if we live in a community

whose front doors are sufficiently secluded

to collapse on our front steps?

Are we any less responsible

if that homeless person collapses

in the streets of Boston? 

In the gospel story both Lazarus and the rich man die

and go to their respective eternal rewards.

When the rich man asks that Lazarus be sent

to warn the man’s five brothers

to be more generous to those in need, he’s told,

 “Even if someone should rise from the dead

- they will not listen to him…”

Well, someone has risen from the dead - Jesus.

And he has come to tell us, today, that we can’t risk

‘being satisfied and complacent

in responding to the poor, to those in need -

wherever they may be!

There is no measure of distance that relieves us

of  our responsibility for those in need.

And indeed, while the poor may not fall on our doorsteps,

the poor are close to us, right here in town.

The Holy Family St. Vincent de Paul Society

is a group of parishioners who respond to calls

Holy Family Parish receives

from those in need, right here in Concord.

The calls come through the parish office and we relay them

to the St. Vincent de Paul folks.

It’s not unusual for us to get 3 or 4 calls - a week

from people in Concord who need housing assistance, food,

clothing and assistance in paying gas, electric and heating bills.

One way of assisting in this work

is to donate to St. Vincent de Paul.

There are boxes for this purpose at the doors of our church.

How much should each of us give in reaching out to the poor

and in support of those who reach out to them in our name?

We each have to make that determination on our own.

But the scriptures tell us clearly today

that determining our generosity to the poor should be measured

in proportion to our generosity to ourselves

with comfort and luxuries.       

We live in a well-protected community here in Concord.

We don’t find the poor on our doorsteps.

and even when the poor live on our own street

or around the corner,

we are often protected from knowing who they are

and what their needs might be.

What the scriptures ask of us today,

what they demand of us today,

is that we not be complacent,

that we not allow our comfort and luxury to blind us

to the needs of others in our neighborhoods, in Boston

and around the whole world.

It’s not so much our nice things on which we’ll be judged

but rather on our complacency about those in need.

What the scriptures warn us of today is this:

how easily our nice things can lead us to be complacent

when others need so much for us to be generous.

I am sure that as we come to the Lord’s Table today,

there are some among us who are in need

and others here who have the resources to help them.

And even if no one in need is with us at this Mass,

the poor of the world come in spirit to this altar

in the person of Jesus

who made himself poor that we might be rich in his grace.

In a few moments, we will share in a banquet

 (not the feast Amos decried,

nor the table of gospel’s rich man)

but rather, the banquet which is the life of Christ given for us

first on the Cross

and shared with us now, again,

in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist on this altar.

May the nourishment we receive here

in Communion with Christ, with one another

and with all those in need, make us quick to be generous

from the bottom of our hearts.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!