WITH ST. MARY'S
THE TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Do not set a bad example; prepare for Heaven with humility and love.
TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Why is it that there seems to be an inversion of fortune after death? Multiple times in the Gospels, we are taught a variation of the axiom that the first shall be last and that the last shall be first. The comforted will become afflicted and the afflicted will be comforted, the rich will become poor and the poor will become rich, etc. Christ further emphasizes this idea in this Sunday’s Gospel through the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Once again, we are told that he who has much in life will lose it and he who has little in life will be rewarded great things. At the heart of each time Jesus brings this concept up, he is very simply trying to share with us a single message of warning: there is an afterlife, and what we do on earth factors into our fate.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
There are a few details about today’s Gospel that are actually quite significant to how we are to live out our lives. First, this does appear to be a parable, but there is a strange addition that Christ adds to this parable that he does not add to any other: he names a character (Lazarus). At most other parts in the Bible when we are shared a personal name with no explanation, we should assume that this named individual was known to the early community of Christians who were the target audience. Likewise, the actual naming of Lazarus in the parable indicates that this may have been a real person and that Christ wanted to emphasize that this really happened. The problem, though, is that the bulk of the parable does not take place in this earthly life, but after. Christ wants us to be absolutely sure: the afterlife is real, and our participation in Heaven is not guaranteed. By all accounts, the rich man is not undergoing the torments of hell, but the purifying flames of purgatory, eagerly awaiting relief from the graces of those holy men and women who are already in the “bosom of Abraham.” On earth, the rich man never mistreated Lazarus, but ignored his existence and suffering. His riches distracted him from serving the needs of the poor, and this ultimately distracted him from serving God. We understand purgatory to be something that perfects us and rids us of all of our attachments to earth; the rich man was distracted from God by his wealth and comfort, so it became necessary for him to have his wealth and comfort stripped. Lazarus, on the other hand, had nothing to distract him from God. Poverty did not make him virtuous, but it did teach him humility. This is what is absolutely essential more than anything else in order to enter into the Kingdom of God. Your responsibility now is to not let the comforts of the world distract you from serving God and neighbor; all that we need can be found in Scripture and in the words of Christ. Listen to these warnings.
Family activity to do at home: Children need good examples. They need holy people in their lives to show them that it is not only possible to be virtuous at all times, but also that a holy life becomes accessible when we work on it frequently and diligently. Ultimately, it will be our Christian virtues that can be the only way in which we are led into Heaven. Christ has already opened the doors and invited us in through his victory over death; now, it is our turn to accept the call and to live in such a way that perfects us for the perfection of Heaven. Children need to be reminded and taught that this is possible; we do not need to be slaves to our sins or give into the despair of our nature. It starts with surrounding them with good examples. Read the following activity to see how to start planting the seeds for good examples in your children's lives.