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(Part 198)


September 25, 2016

Today’s readings:
Amos 6:1-7
Psalm 146:7-10
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Luke 16:19-31

The work of the New Evangelization is truly urgent. It is all about addressing poverty in the world, both material and spiritual. The focus on material poverty in today’s psalm is obvious. But it also refers to spiritual poverty.

  • “secures justice for the oppressed” (Ps 146:7a). God’s people are oppressed by Satan. God secures justice, that is, gives them what is their due, and that is salvation.
  • “gives bread to the hungry” (Ps 146:7b). God’s people are hungry for the word of God and for the life-giving bread of the Eucharist. Evangelization enables them to meet Christ and to live Christ with formation through the Bible. It brings lapsed Catholics back to God and to the Church, and to partake of that greatest source of grace, the Eucharist.
  • “The Lord sets prisoners free” (Ps 146:7c). God’s people are in bondage to sin, the ways of the world, and the dominion of Satan. God sets them free.
  • “the Lord gives sight to the blind.” (Ps 146:8a). God’s people are blind to the realities of sin, as they indulge in worldly ways and secular pursuits. Meeting Christ makes them see what is truly of value in life.
  • “The Lord raises up those who are bowed down” (Ps 146:8b). God’s people are oppressed and persecuted. God restores their strength and raises them up in the power of His Spirit.
  • “The Lord protects the resident alien” (Ps 146:9a). God’s people are pilgrims in this darkened world. God protects and guides them as they make their way to heaven.
  • “comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow” (Ps 146:9b). Marriages and families are decimated by the work of the evil one. God restores His original intent in the lives of His people.

Many Catholics are ignorant of such spiritual realities. They do not read or study the word of God. But they should, because it is all about their own salvation, as well as the salvation of others. Take the case of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was very rich, while Lazarus was very poor. “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, ....” (Lk 16:22-23a). Lazarus went to heaven while the rich man went to hell. What was the rich man’s sin? He did not care about his neighbor. He was unjust.

We cannot be complacent. We see the darkness in the world, the oppression of the poor, the loss of faith. It is our responsibility to do something about it, and that starts with evangelization. We cannot just go about our own way, attending to our own secular affairs, enjoying our worldly pleasures (like the rich man), when we have a task to be done. We cannot just continue to sip piña coladas while lying on cots at the country club. “Those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge upon their couches, .... who drink wine from bowls, .... shall be the first to go into exile, and the carousing of those who lounged shall cease.” (Am 6:4a,6a,7).

That is what happened to the rich man. At death his situation and that of Lazarus was reversed. “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.” (Lk 16:25). In the end justice will be done. Where do we want fullness of life? Just in this world, or in the life that is eternal?

God’s people should know what salvation is all about. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is all about salvation. All the necessary instructions are there. Abraham himself, the father of all nations, has said, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.” (Lk 16:29). We just need to respond. What should we do? “Compete well for the faith.” (1 Tm 6:12a). Live out the faith. Meet Christ, live Christ, and share Christ. Do this with conviction and passion. Know that the stakes are high. It is all about salvation. “Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called” (1 Tm 6:12b). We are to persevere in this all the way to the end, “to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tm 6:14).

Unfortunately, many still reject the call to repentance, even after Jesus resurrected from the dead and already won for us our salvation. “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” (Lk 16:31). But we should keep trying. Our own salvation is at stake.

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