All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

Not Quite the Walking Dead

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I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been insanely busy with work, play, and volunteerism, which is the culmination of both work and play.  I have a draft saved of some reflection on God’s word, but my heart wasn’t it in when I jotted it down.  I need to reorganize it.

I am exhausted physically, but very energized mentally and spiritually.  Therefore, I am not quite the walking dead.  My spirit is sustaining me.

Of course, the gospel this last Sunday (Luke 16:19-31) concerned the story of Lazarus and is one of my favorite passages, particularly in regards to those who lack faith.  “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead,” Abraham tells the rich man (eponymously referred to as Dives, Latin for “rich” or “extravagant”.)  There is a lot to reflect on in that.

There are two things, however, I want to remember out of the readings this last week.  In the homily at the church I was visiting (St. Catherine of Siena in Houston), Father Nolan pointed out that in the story of Lazarus, we learn that he had wounds and was unattended (“Dogs even used to come and lick his sores”) but that we do not see Lazarus asking for pity or for help.

Who knows why Lazarus was in the predicament he was in?  Does it matter?  Perhaps it was a life of deviance?  Maybe it was just bad luck?  Regardless, he was suffering and he asked for no help.   Father Nolan pointed out that it is very humbling to ask for help, there is no dignity in it.  How often do we neglect those who are suffering because they refuse to ask for help?  That point really plucked my heart-strings.  Though I’ve never had as dire circumstances as Lazarus had, I have needed help before. It took a necessary swallowing of pride to ask for it and it is tear-jerking to recollect the help I received when I asked for it.

The New Testament (1 Timothy 6:11-15) reading prior to the Gospel was from Paul’s first letter to Timothy, praising the virtues of those prophets and Moses for their observance and piety towards God.  But it is the verses before 11-15 that ring home for me:

Teach and urge these things.  Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.

From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain.

Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.

Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.

(1 Timothy 6:3-10) Breaks added for emphasis.

The first time I read this passage, as an atheist, I rolled my eyes at the holy-roller attitude in it.  But Paul is not trying to be holier-than-thou, I now understand.  He is only making an observation about what is true.  Wealth is not a bad thing and it is encouraged, as long as it is not at the peril of others or of the spirit.  That only comes about when it is given back to those from whence it is derived:

“Do you wish to honor the Body of Christ? Do not ignore Him when He is naked. Do not pay Him homage in the temple clad in silk and gold, only then to neglect Him outside where He is cold and ill-clad.  He who said, ‘This is my body’ is the same One who said, ‘You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. . .’  What good is it if the Eucharistic Table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brothers and sisters are dying of hunger? Start by satisfying their hunger and then with what is left, you may adorn the altar as well.” (From Homily on Matthew by St. John Chrysostom, excerpted from homily by Fr. David Meconi, S.J., The Poor of Our Own Doorsteps.)

I’m working on a new project, yet again. Perhaps it will let me evangelize in a very entertaining way to many, or maybe to only one. Wish me luck.

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Written by Written Straw

September 28, 2010 at 6:41 pm

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