26th Sunday OT Year C
We have often heard it said that the gospel should comfort the afflicted, but afflict the comfortable. Today's reading certainly falls into the "afflict the comfortable" category. Jesus is giving us an important lesson. It simply is not sufficient to worry about ourselves and our own needs. It is an absolute command of the gospel, a command from Christ himself, to love our neighbor. The rich man in the gospel is tormented in the flames for all eternity because he failed to help Lazarus.
Personally I find this parable particularly difficult to take. If you listen carefully you will notice that the rich man never even notices Lazarus. Jesus tells us that Lazarus was at the rich man's door, but he never says that the rich man walked past him. It never says that the rich man spurned or abused him. It never even says that the rich man exploited Lazarus or did any other thing against him. In other words, the rich man didn't do anything to Lazarus, which is precisely the point. In the sacrament of confession we are quite good at confessing our sins: those actions against God, others, or self. But, when we examine our conscience do we even notice those things that we have failed to do? The scariest thing about the story of Lazarus is that the rich man never even noticed Lazarus. How many people just like Lazarus do we walk by on a daily basis? How often is there some good that we should be doing that we simply fail to do? How often are we wrapped up in the concerns of our own lives, our own families, our own situations that we fail to help those in need?
Today we will see a video about the annual bishop's appeal. You will see some of the many things the diocese does with the funds collected in the annual appeal. Many of these worthy efforts are like Lazarus sitting at your door. You may not have even noticed that the diocese has had a huge increase in seminarians, but with that increase comes a great need for financial support for their education and formation. You may not have noticed that the diocese is increasing its catechetical efforts, especially toward young adults. You may not have noticed all the many programs the diocese offers to prepare couples for marriage. You may not have noticed the many charitable outreach programs funded by the Bishop's appeal. This video may point out many ways you can help those in need, ways you never noticed before. So that, unlike the rich man in the parable, we will not neglect to help those in need.