SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION FROM VATICAN RADIO
(English version exclusive to this website)
Translated and summarized from the homily by Fr Fabio Rosini
September 25th 2021. Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL Luke 16, 19-31
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .
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GOSPEL Luke 16,19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
"There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man's table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.'
'My child, remember that you received
what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go
from our side to yours or from your side to ours.'
He said, 'Then I beg you, father,
send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.'
But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'
He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"
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The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
SUMMARY OF HOMILY
The Gospel on Sunday contains the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man is so pampered by his own self-indulgence that he does not even notice the plight of the suffering Lazarus. Isn’t this true of our world today? The technological advances of our age has meant that our younger generation has a massive input of images on a scale never seen in the history of humanity. This leads to a form of apathy and passivity. Like the rich man who is blind to the condition of Lazarus, our self-indulgence and constant self-pampering leads us to be blind, stupid and indifferent to what is true and meaningful. The word “imbecile” derives from the term “imbelle” which means “one who cannot fight”. The fact is that our over indulgence dims our senses to such an extent that we become limited in what we perceive and in how we react. Let us open our eyes to this situation! The basic foundation of discernment is to ask what are the consequences of any course of action. The consequence of our preoccupation with our own comfort and wellbeing is that we would fail to recognize the risen Christ if he stood among us, as the parable hints. God sends us crosses, sufferings and inconveniences so that we will open our eyes, begin to truly listen and return to ourselves. He does it so that we will see where we are in danger of ending up, and change course.
The comfort and the self-indulgence of our world can make us blind and deaf to what is true and meaningful
Our age is marked by great technological advances, with undoubted positive consequences, but also with serious human repercussions. Children who grow up attached to the screens of tablets or smartphones suffer - say the studies - the under-development of their own imaginations. Put simply: having such a massive input of images - as has never been the case before in human history - they do not imagine "on their own" but are conditioned by the images they receive. It is an example, among many others, of a form of passivity. This important theme is present in Sunday's Gospel, where there is a rich man, "who wore robes of purple and very fine linen, and dined lavishly every day" without realizing where this series of over-indulgences was taking him. We too, if we become over-satisfied, lose awareness of the consequences: comfort, pleasure and aesthetics can make us blind and deaf to what is really going on around us.
We have become lethargic, passive and foolish as a result of our self-indulgence and constant self-pampering
The story of Lazarus is that of a poor man who lives surrounded by people who do not see him, who do not even notice him. The detail regarding the dogs that go to lick his wounds is very revealing. The rich people are so distracted with their comforts and satisfactions that they have become less human. The dogs surpass them in sensitivity. We find something similar in the first reading of Sunday's liturgy. The passage from Amos speaks of those who are “complacent” in Israel. These people live lives of self-indulgence, but Amos warns them that they will be taken into exile. Once upon a time, in the Italian language, there was an unfortunate phrase which referred to people in an impaired mental condition as a result of war trauma – “fools of war”. Today we have "fools of peace", an army of people, mainly the young and very young, who have become passive and lethargic as a result of constant self-indulgence and excessive wellbeing. The word "imbecile" derives from the Latin term "imbelle", meaning the one who cannot fight.
God allows us to suffer pain and inconvenience so that our eyes will be open and our senses attuned to what is real and important
It is not a matter of re-introducing an absurd form of machismo, but of considering with attention the consequences of my actions. The basic foundation of the art of discernment is the question: if I do, think, or choose this, where will it lead me? If I live a life of complete self-indulgence then the consequence will be that my senses will become so dimmed that I would not recognize the risen Christ even if he were standing before me. "Please send Lazarus to my father's house, because I have five brothers. Admonish them severely, so that they too do not come to this place of torment," pleads the rich man. Abraham replies: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if one were to rise from the dead". It's a tragic answer: if the senses don't work, they just don't work. Not even if the risen Christ appears. In order for the senses to start working again, they must be used; they must be re-sensitized. God sends us crosses, sufferings and inconveniences so that we will open our eyes, resume listening and return to ourselves. He does it so that we will see where we are in danger of ending up, and change course. In today’s world we are over preoccupied by what we wear and what we eat. We dress in designer clothes and are very taken with the satisfaction of our palate. We risk perdition with this behaviour. Lazarus was nothing other than the rich man’s opportunity for salvation. Similarly, the poor around us are our opportunity for salvation. These irritating and uncomfortable beggars are a gift from God for us! The sufferings of others around us is our chance to respond to grace. The Lord visits us precisely with these appetites, these mouths to be fed that we encounter on a daily basis.