From Father's Desk

Dear OLPH,

As the sun sinks lower on the horizon each evening, treating us with luminous clouds and iridescent contrasts in a full palette of hues from golden amber to indigo, we witness each day the glory of the Lord. Each day God seeks to show us something new, to reveal his love and mercy to us in a new, usually hidden - yet in a flash brilliant - way. I love the transition of September: from the swelter of summer to the crispness of fall. What a difference a day makes!

In the Gospel (Lk 16:19-31) we experience great differences as well. In a few lines, the situation of two men change radically. Both the rich man and Lazarus end up in the afterworld in the wake of stark contrasts. The 80’s movie Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd is outdone by these men as their reversal of fortune perdures through eternity. And eternity is a long time... strike that! It is no time and so outside of time.

The rich man, sometimes referred to as Dives (which in Latin just means “rich”) experienced the opulence of his state: sumptuous food, excess, delight. His cup overflows, quite literally onto the floor where the dogs benefit. And then our dear Lazarus, short for Eleazar (meaning in Hebrew “God has helped”) who sits on the edge of death, at the doorstep of Dives. Sometimes being sated can make us blind. When we are comfortable we can become complacent. When need or lack unsettles us, we can be open to deeper conversion. Dives is full. There is little room for God, and only blindness to the poor one just outside.
As we enter into week three of Mercy and Our Response, we are left wondering what could be done differently? One of the aspects of the parable that astounds me is that Dives, even after death, still thinks that he is in command. He still seeks comfort and the rescuing of his brothers. There is still little concern for the wrongs suffered by Lazarus. What pride to think that even from torments, he might be in control.
Our good God had been so generous to the rich man and yet that abundance never reaches beyond his own household. And Lazarus, as God arranged things, was dependent on the generosity of others. There is no sense that Lazarus was expected to ameliorate his own condition. God designed the scenario, and it is similar to our own, that others would benefit from our generosity, while those able to give and share grow in virtue and in love.

Now Jesus is addressing the Pharisees, who Luke tells us, suffer from the love of money (mammon, which means “that in which one trusts,” which we discussed last week). Today we can appreciate the danger for the love of money, when it prevents that generosity of spirit God desires us to express, in this case, through love of neighbor. Permit me to offer two excellent ways to practice love of neighbor right here locally. First, our Saint Vincent de Paul Society. 100% of your donation goes directly to those who need assistance in our own Maple Shade community. Use the white metal boxes at exists or the Givelify app. Second, the Maple Shade Food Bank. A bag of groceries or some canned goods go a long way in helping members of the working poor who need a little something extra to make ends meet. Both are excellent ways to share the bounty that God has shared with us.

With a generous heart,
Fr. Wilson