Posted by: fvbcdm | March 20, 2014

Feast of Saint Anastasius (20 March 2014)

Again today, we find a classical Lenten reading in the Gospel passage at Mass. It is our Lord’s parable about the rich man who lived in great affluence and opulence, and the starving, disease-ridden Lazarus who lay at his doorstep but was given nothing of the rich man’s abundance.

They both die; the poor man is transported to heaven; the rich man to hell. It is interesting to note that Jesus does not mention that the poor man had done anything particularly good, but he did suffer a great deal because of the lack of charity of the wealthy man. Jesus is pointing out to us that just the endurance of suffering in this world can be meritorious for us in the next. We have two old sayings in English: “You can’t take it with you” and “There are no pockets in shrouds.” But neither of those is true in the realm of the spirit.  Quite the contrary. Our Lord tells us, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither the moth can eat holes to destroy our clothing nor can rust erode valuable items of metal.” And what are these treasures that we are commanded to lay up for ourselves in heaven? Merit, of course. The rich man in this parable certainly could not bring money with him to heaven, but had he bought food for the poor man, that money that he spent on the food would indeed be awaiting him in heaven, with LOTS of interest. Jesus assures us that not even a cup of cold water given to a thirsty man will go unrewarded.

During this season of Lent, when the emphasis is upon prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, this parable of Jesus is particularly apropos. Look into your own life. Do you spend money on lots of non-essential personal things? Gambling? Smoking? Gourmet dining? Costly entertainment? Drinking? All of those things are legitimate when used in moderation. I would like to suggest that during Lent, you spend an equal amount on the poor. We Catholics can be justly proud of the church agency called Catholic Relief Services. It has been praised more than once as being a remarkable success in terms of getting the highest percentage of donations to the poor for whom the donations are intended, and the least amount to overhead, promotion, salaries, etc. You might keep a piggy bank into which you put money equal to what you spend on cigarettes which destroy your health and become a health hazard and a nuisance to others. Or equal to what you spend on cosmetics, or hairdos, or gambling, or drinking. You might be very surprised at how quickly your piggy bank fills up, and what a nice little sum you have at the end of Lent to send to Catholic Relief Services or the Little Sisters of the Poor, or some other worthwhile agency which helps the poor. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

 Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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