26th. Sunday in Ordinary Time

In Ireland today we hear and see a lot of homelessness, and many times we come across homeless and poor people. In my former Parish in Borris the Parochial House was right beside the church on the main street and I would have got many callers to the house asking for money and many people when I am out around approach me, especially if I am wearing my collar. Sometimes I gave them money but other times I would use arguments such as, if I give them money they will just use it for drink and drugs, why don’t they get a job like everyone else, all these things run through our head. The presence of these people makes me feel uncomfortable; and the fact that it makes me uncomfortable is very good. The gospel today is meant to bother us, to get under our skin, especially the majority of us who are relatively well off. St. Luke sums up the rich man in a few lines: “He dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted magnificently every day”. There is an interesting detail here in that the rich man is never named, a name identifies you, but the fact that he is not named, shows how his wealth has isolated him into his own world. The important point of the story is that he is indifferent to the plight of the poor man. The poor man dies and he is carried into the embrace of Abraham. The rich man dies and finds himself in another world. “He is in torment”; we should see this torment that begins now, this is the torment of isolation; wealth and material things can lock us up into our world. We are called to be community, to help and support each other, this is what the church is – the community of believers, – but wealth and material things can isolate us from this community. The rich man begs Abraham to send a warning to his brothers; but Abraham rather coldly refuses his request and says they have Moses and the prophets and this is something that should worry us, should bother us; we have Moses and the prophets and we have the teaching and example of the Church (Pope Francis). Our first reading today from the Prophet Amos, calls us to be attentive to the poor. Are we listening to the Prophets? This is the challenge we are faced with. Everything we have is a gift from God; we are stewards and controllers of these goods but not dominators. We should ask ourselves the question: why does God permit me to have all these material things, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. He allows us to have all this to serve God’s purposes. The homeless and poor people we come across are there to help us to leave the tendency to close ourselves off and live in our own world and this why God allows these people into our lives and that is why sometimes they bother us. A businessman in San Antonio Texas parked his brand new car on the street and went off to do some business. When he got back to it he found a poor little boy of about eleven examining it with eyes full of wonder and envy. ‘Is that your car, mister?’ the boy asked. ‘Yes’, he replied. ‘It’s beautiful, how much did you pay for it?’ ‘To be honest sonny, I don’t know.’ ‘You mean you bought it and you can’t remember what you paid for it?’ ‘Sonny, I didn’t buy it. I got a present of it from my brother.’ ‘I wish that I…’ The man was sure the boy was going to say, ‘I wish that I had a brother like that.’ But what the boy said was, ‘I wish that I could be a brother like that’. The man concluded. ‘There was I in my fancy suit, with the keys of a brand new car in my hand. And there was the boy in rags. Yet the boy had more love in his heart than I had. In that sense he was richer than I was. I was so impressed that I took him and his little brother who was crippled with infantile paralysis, for a drive. The next few hours were the happiest of my life’.