To Be Honest Wk 2: You Only Live Once
Sunday 26th Week in Ordinary Time: To Be Honest Wk 2: You Only Live Once
Last week we introduced a new message series called To Be Honest. We call it that because we are discussing truths from Jesus about living a Christian life, and to be honest, it is not always easy, but these are things Jesus requires of us.
Last Sunday we spoke extensively about the idea: To be Honest you can not serve both God and Money. Because eventually you will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. We explained that the way out of that conundrum is to have our priorities straight, follow Jesus, be devoted to God, and to live a life of generosity.
This week we are saying: To Be Honest: You Only Live Once, you don’t get a do over after death, like the rich man in the gospel who can’t go back and do it over. I’d like to take a dive into this gospel story in a way you may not have considered before. First, let’s start with another true story.
A young Catholic wife and mother in Shalimar took a contract job with the military. Working in the same department was a non-Catholic young man who asked many questions about our Church and our parish. One Sunday this busy young mom found time to pick up this young man and his girlfriend, bring them to Mass and then explain the different objects around the altar, the stations of the cross, and some of the things he saw and heard during Mass.
They were so delighted with this taste of something spiritual, and that our young busy mom took an interest in them, that they asked to learn more about Catholicism. A couple of years later, as a young newly Catholic couple, they were married in our church. I can tell you at least a dozen stories like that.
Today’s Gospel tells of a rich man who neglected to share his food with Lazarus who had nothing. Usually we draw the lesson that those who have many material blessings must share with those who have little. I would like to draw the lesson that WE spiritually rich Catholics must share with the millions right around us who are spiritually starving.
Consider our incredible riches. We have the seven sacraments which bring Christ to us at all the important stages of life. For example, most other churches have what they call Communion only once a month, less frequently, or never. We Catholics can eat at the table of the Lord every day, receive Holy Communion every day. Remembering Jesus in that way just like he told us to.
There are millions whose hunger for God is more painful than any hunger for bread. There are tens of thousands of people in the Okalooasa county area who are starving for the same.
We have the Word of God, the Bible, in the readings of every Mass, with rich insights and challenges presented every week through our homilies and homily study guides. You can always find the bible readings used for Mass and footnotes on our US Bishops website. https://bible.usccb.org/daily-bible-reading
Right around us every day are fellow students, fellow workers, neighbors, and friends, who know little or nothing about what God tells us in the Bible.
We Catholic Christians are rich in public worship. Consider — the warmth and thrill of our Christmas Midnight Mass; the expressive ceremonies of Holy Week; the Joy of Easter Sunday!; the dignity and excitement of a Catholic wedding; the consolation of our funeral Masses and services; the dewy freshness of our May devotions; the innocence of a young child’s baptism, the beautiful, angelic atmosphere of First Holy Communion; the hope-inspiring devotions of November; the drama of a weekday Mass in a quiet, humble church.
Through the year we recall, we re-live, the principal events in the life of Jesus with fitting Bible readings, expressive prayers, soul-stirring music and songs, and eye-catching ceremony. All this spiritual wealth — and more — we must share with the spiritually famished. Don’t be complacent. The spiritually starving Lazarus is lying at your gate. Invite him in to partake of these spiritual blessings.
All of us are susceptible to getting involved in our own little world and tuning out those around us. We get caught up in our patterns of living and learn to focus our attention on the things that concern us, and tune out the things that we think do not concern us. We view the world through a lens of “what does this have to do with me?” But, the Lord Jesus is trying to call our attention to the fact that we are all our brothers and sisters keepers. We should be just as concerned about the spiritual needs of those around us, as we are with our own.
During mass in Eucharistic Prayer IV we pray to God:
Therefore, Lord, remember now all for whom we make this sacrifice. . . those who take part in this offering, those gathered here before you, your entire people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart. There are many seeking God ‘‘with a sincere heart.” Pray for them — now. Tell them about these blessings –now. Invite them to share with you — now. Don’t be complacent like the guy in the gospel.
Like the rich man in the gospel, many of us are spiritually rich in our Catholicism. Much like the rich man, sometimes we “step over” things we don’t want to deal with or respond to. So we step around the spiritually impoverished. To Be Honest, You Only Live Once. Like the gospel’s rich man we don’t get a “do over.” But there is still time for you and me.
Make an effort to notice those around us a little more than usual, especially the people we live and work with everyday. The people that are closest to us are often the easiest to overlook when they are spiritually starving because they are so familiar to us. Things like suicides and divorce can sometimes be prevented by talking to one another more, being involved in one another’s lives, and praying with them face to face right then and there even if it isn’t a close family member or friend.
Teenagers and young people are also especially vulnerable to spiritual starvation and the adults in their lives may not even notice it. This week, let’s notice those around us a little more than usual and see if there is anything we can do to help alleviate their spiritual hunger by sharing the riches of our faith.
Parents of children of ALL ages – share the riches of your faith with your children! Pray with your children… at home, on the phone, FaceTime or Zoom. There is still time to do that!
God wants all people to share in the riches of our beautiful faith. Ask God to help you bring this about. Don’t be complacent like the rich guy in the gospel. You too are rich –share the riches of your faith.