Msgr. Joseph Prior

(See the readings for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Odd Time, Sept. 25, 2022.)

“Who cares? We care!” was the theme of the Catholic Charities Enchantment just a few years in the past. You would possibly bear in mind the billboards or different promoting searching for help for the attraction. The phrases seize the work of the Church in serving these in want. Catholic Charities and all of the associations it assists are nice examples.

St. Francis of Assisi is believed to have as soon as stated, “Preach the gospel and typically use phrases.” The work of caring for the poor and needy is an integral facet of the lifetime of the church, and he or she commonly lives this out.

We would contemplate all of the meals and clothes drives carried out by parishioners for the poor throughout our space. It is superb after we take into consideration all of the soup kitchens, the Thanksgiving and Christmas drives, the work parishioners do in getting ready meals for businesses akin to “Caring for Associates,” the volunteering carried out by Catholics for bigger organizations (each religion primarily based and secular) who assist the poor, all of the work that’s carried out for the homeless, and all of the work our college kids do in service actions. These are simply the organized considerations. If you happen to add all the person acts of charity seen by few, I doubt that the work may ever be precisely quantified: it is so massive; and it goes on on a regular basis.

“Who cares? We care!”

Reflecting on the Gospel passage for right now’s liturgy led me to mirror on the generosity of the church and her love for the poor so splendidly lived out in motion. The passage recollects Jesus telling the story of the wealthy man and Lazarus. Lazarus was a poor one who used to beg on the door to the wealthy man’s property. Jesus makes use of a graphic description of Lazarus’ destitution when he says: “Canine even used to return and lick his sores from him,” and “he longed to eat even the scraps that fell from the wealthy man’s desk.”

The wealthy man didn’t do something in life to assist Lazarus. One explicit element that may simply be neglected within the passage was that the wealthy man knew Lazarus by identify. He not solely noticed him when he handed by, he knew who he was. He knew his plight from him. He did nothing. I’ve ignored him.

After dying, when from the netherworld the wealthy man seems to be as much as see Lazarus at Abraham’s facet, he begs for help which can’t be given as Abraham says: “My youngster, bear in mind you acquired what was good throughout your lifetime whereas Lazarus likewise acquired what was unhealthy; however now he’s comforted right here, whereas you might be tormented.”

When the wealthy man asks to be allowed to return to life to warn his brothers, Abraham replies: “They’ve Moses and the prophets. Allow them to hearken to them.” After an additional objection by the wealthy man, Abraham says: “If they won’t hearken to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if somebody ought to rise from the useless.”

Whereas Abraham’s prophecy is true – there are nonetheless so many who are suffering from poverty in all its levels each domestically and universally – we can not neglect those that have heard the decision and reply commonly and repeatedly. Different instances within the Gospels, Jesus reminds us of how blessed are those that reply to the decision. As soon as Jesus’ disciples instructed him that his household have been outdoors searching for him. He replied to them: “My mom and my brothers are those that hear the phrase of God and act on it” (cf. Lk 8:19-21). One other time a girl from a crowd cried out: “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied: “Quite, blessed are those that hear the phrase of God and observe it” (Lk 11:27-28).

The decision to serve the poor in love is rooted within the covenant with Israel. The prophets commonly known as Israel to process for ignoring or, even worse, profiting from the poor.

The primary studying for right now’s liturgy from the Prophet Amos is an instance. The reverse is true in addition to when the take care of the poor is exhausted. For instance, Proverbs 14:21: “Whoever despises the hungry comes up quick, however completely satisfied the one who’s type to the poor!” or Psalm 41:1: “Blessed the one involved for the poor, on a day of misfortune, the Lord delivers him.” Or from right now’s responsorial psalm: “Blessed is he who retains religion endlessly, secures justice for the oppressed, offers meals to the hungry” (Ps 146:7).

Jesus is the witness to God’s care and concern for the poor. He’s the last word expression of “training what you preach.” This dwelling witness is carried on right now within the lives of the trustworthy who stroll in his method. Every one in every of us known as to take care of the poor as an act of affection. Right this moment we’re inspired to proceed the ministry, to stroll in the way in which of Christ, to reply to the needy who we encounter daily, and to take care of the poor.

When the query “Who cares?” is requested, might our actions give the response “We care!”

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Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of Our Girl of Grace Parish, Penndel, and a former professor of Sacred Scripture and rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.