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True Richness

Updated on March 4, 2021

“When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.” ~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta

“Cursed is the man who trusts human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” These are the words of the great prophet Jeremiah in today’s 1st Reading (Jeremiah 17:5-10). If we were to be honest about the state of affairs these days, we’d probably conclude that we as a society have fallen into this sin. By fostering a misguided and overly optimistic dependence on man while drifting from man’s creator, we have in many respects achieved the odd distinction of becoming what noted evangelist Father John Riccardo likes to call a band of “educated fools.” With advances in virtually every facet of our society, with a modern day standard of living in this country that affords even those who hover around the poverty level a better life than those who were royalty only a few hundred years ago, by racking up degree after degree after degree, we have, in reality become blind, blind to the need for repentance, blind to the virtue of humility, blind to the very critical need for faith

This is sadly ironic of course, for it is those who look down upon the true believers, assuming that they must be uneducated or down on their luck, that often use the term “blind faith“ when referring to devout Christians. After all, if you’re relegated to faith as a means to get you through the day, you’ve obviously exhausted every other angle right?

But faith is not blind. Far from it. Faith is the byproduct of the Holy Spirit-infused gift of counsel. Through counsel, we come to develop a desire for obedience, a word that somewhere along the line rather sadly grew to take on a negative connotation. I’ve written about this most noble of virtues before and we all know that it takes time and discipline to cultivate an obedient heart.

Our culture is corrosive; it threatens to rust and harden our hearts, certainly not make them more obedient. Scripture, the Rosary, the Sacraments, Eucharistic Adoration.... these are the anecdotes to combat the noise, clutter and general confusion that seeks to befuddle the soul. For as Jeremiah goes on to conclude in today’s passage “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream.”

Today’s Gospel (Luke 16:19-31) focuses on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man who “dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day,” all the while ignoring Lazarus, the poor man who was lying at his door, the man who “would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” It was of course the rich man’s lack of mercy, his self-absorbed disregard for the poor, that was his ultimate and eternal undoing. Lent is a great season for all of us to reflect upon what we are doing to help the marginalized, the poor, the imprisoned, the suffering.

Ask yourself this question as you reflect upon this Gospel. What is your definition of the word rich? Is it tied to net worth, perhaps a magical number that, once attained, officially makes one ”rich?” Or is it instead more about the fullness and richness of a life rooted in the Gospel, emulating Jesus in your thoughts, words, choices and actions? The pursuit of the soon-to-be moth-eaten and decayed, or the pursuit of that which is heavenly, that which is eternal?

“Blessed the man who follows not the way of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.” ~ Psalm 1

We adore you O Christ and we praise you, for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


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