Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 29, 2019 Cycle C
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine,
Sunday Reading Meditations
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Lay hold of eternal life” (1 Tm 6:12). We conclude the Nicene Creed with the statement that we believe in “the life of the world to come.” Christians hope for life everlasting.
In today’s first reading, the prophet Amos criticizes the rulers of Judah and Israel for their self-centered and luxury-loving lives: “Woe to the complacent in Zion! […] They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!” (Am 6:1,6). Tragedy was imminent and they were living lives of indolence, pleasure and luxury: “Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with” (Am 6:7).
In Jesus’ parable, we see a rich man with a similar lifestyle: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day” (Lk 16:19). This man was insensitive to the fate of Lazarus, lying in front of his mansion: “Lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table” (Lk 16:20–21). The rich man was indifferent to Lazarus’ agony. He was blind to the needs of his neighbor.
A hedonistic, luxurious and indolent lifestyle means a life devoid of God. Without the horizon of eternity, life centers upon the self, pleasures and entertainments, which leads to indifference and disdain toward others.
In the first reading, the rulers were deported, while in Jesus’ parable, the rich man goes to hell. A life devoid of meaning is likely to end badly.
In the second reading, Saint Paul invites Timothy to “[l]ay hold of eternal life.” Eternal life is the abundant life promised by Jesus: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Eternal life is God’s life shared with us. Eternal life is the fulfillment of all desires.
We live in a time when many people either do not believe in eternal life or live as if the hereafter did not exist. As Saint Paul says, we need to “compete well for the faith” (1 Tm 6:12), using the figure of a fighter in an arena.
We need a sense of eternity. We need to put God in the center of our lives, in order to overcome our insensitivity to the needs and sufferings of those “lying at our door.” As today’s Psalm says: “Blessed is he who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry” (Ps 146:6–7).
“Lay hold of eternal life.” Let us renew our faith in the life of the world to come, that we may experience the abundance of life promised by Jesus here and now. May the profession of our faith in eternal life lead us to a greater love of God and the needy. Amen.