Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 5:37 PM
HONOR ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST-Saturday, June 23rd at 6:30 around the front circle for the Blessing of the Fire

10/11/15 Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Ron

One of the most common themes in Sacred Scripture is the contrast between the rich and the poor. And one can easily get the impression that the poor have the advantage when it comes to entering the Kingdom of Heaven, whereas the rich have very little hope.

Imagine, for the sake of illustration, that I am the holiest man you know—a veritable role-model for good, Catholic Christian living. Let's further that fantasy by saying that tomorrow I get a knock on the door, the person hands me a check and says, "Congratulations Deacon Landry, you have won the lottery! You are now a multimillionaire!" Are we to interpret today's gospel as meaning that on Sunday I was on the fast-track to Heaven, but as of Monday—and my new financial status—that I am condemned to Hell? Somehow, I don't think that is what our Lord is telling us. 

Are we to feel less worthy of eternal life with God because we happen to enjoy a comfortable life? In today's gospel, we witness a rich man and a poor one—the rich man depicted negatively and the poor man positively. If we look closely and carefully, however, the rich man is not portrayed as actually being evil; nor, for that matter, is the poor man represented as a role model of moral life.

What we do witness, however, is a missed opportunity. The rich man is not condemned for his wealth, but as a consequence of his failure to share his good fortune. Jesus is not telling us that as Catholic Christians who have applied themselves in school and at work in order to achieve success that we have consequently forsaken any prospect of the Beatific Vision. What our Savior does want is for each and every one of us to appreciate the gifts with which we have been blessed by Almighty God, humbly acknowledge that it is these gifts that have enabled us to succeed, and therefore accept our responsibility to use our good fortune as an opportunity to share our gifts with others. No one chooses to be born in poverty and without prospects for a better life.

What Sacred Scripture is admonishing us about when it cautions of the threat of wealth with respect to our spiritual lives is that the rich face a more difficult challenge in entering the Kingdom of Heaven not because of wealth itself, but because it is all too easy to focus on that and lose one's focus on God. The poor are not of a higher moral character by virtue of their lack of material wealth; the simple fact is that they have little else here on Earth other than their faith in God upon which to focus.

Our culture stresses the importance of accumulated wealth, power and status, and points to those as the measure of our success. As Catholic Christians, we are hard pressed to reconcile our efforts to make a good life for our family and ourselves with the message we hear when we attend Mass. What we must do is take care to listen carefully to the message of our Savior, and act accordingly.

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