The Word for the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Amos 6:1a, 4-7
Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
1 Timothy 6:11-16
We open with another passage from Amos, our fiery Southern prophet giving a warning to those who have become complacent. The imagery Amos uses speaks of excessive wealth, and while taking a jab at David, foretells of what will happen (and did happen) if they don’t change their ways. It is a stinging indictment that is very much relevant today as we see an increasing disparity between rich and poor in our contemporary world.
Our second reading, continuing our study of the Pauline letters to Timothy, urges us to “compete well for the faith.”. Though not directly related to our readings on Justice, its core message of remaining vigilant to the cause of the Gospel serves as a reminder that we must never cease in our efforts to bring justice to the poor and those in need. It also reminds us that we to must be prophets, and in the vein of Amos and Jesus, call out what we see as injustice in our society.
Our gospel continues from where we left off last week, and like last week, gives us another parable that is unique to Luke’s Gospel. To better set the stage, first let’s remember where we are: Jesus still on his travels is seen by a group of Pharisees conversing with a group of “tax collectors and sinners.” The Pharisees complained about this, so Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees, gave us the parables we heard two weeks ago (the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost – prodigal – Son). Continuing then from last week’s Gospel, Jesus turned to his disciples and gave us the parable of the Dishonest Steward, a story pointed squarely at the Pharisees who were listening.
It is helpful to note that after last week’s gospel passage the text continues, saying, “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, ‘You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.’” To reinforce his point, he gives us this week’s passage, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. This parable, unique in its personalization of poor man, is both intimate in its telling and thick with meaning. Using a familiar story telling devices (not unlike that used in A Christmas Carole and It’s A Wonderful Life) we are shown a future that can be avoided if we heed the moral of the story, and follow what Moses, the Prophets, and Jesus have been telling us… “whatever you for the least of my brothers, you do for Me.”