|Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C |
September 29, 2013
This Sunday's Readings
God will judge the complacency of the people and their leaders.
Happy are those who find solace in God, the help of the poor.
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Paul exhorts Timothy to stay faithful to God in all things.
Jesus tells the parable of the reversal of fortunes between the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus.
Background on the Gospel Reading
A major theme in the Gospel of Luke is the importance of the care of the poor in the life of discipleship. In the parable found in today's Gospel, Jesus contrasts the life of a rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, who lives in the shadow of the rich man and his wealth. Both die. Lazarus finds himself in heaven; the rich man in the netherworld. The rich man asks for assistance from Lazarus in his torment. But Abraham reminds the rich man of the good things he had in his life and describes the current situation as a reversal of fortunes. The rich man then asks that Lazarus be sent to warn his family, but this is denied with the reminder that Moses and the prophets have warned of judgment for those who neglect the care of the poor.
In the context of Luke's Gospel, this parable, delivered in the presence of a crowd of listeners, is part of Jesus' response to some Pharisees. These Pharisees are described in Luke's Gospel as “loving money.” (Note: The Pharisees were followers of a sect of Judaism active before, during, and after Jesus' lifetime. They taught an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses as the basis for popular Jewish piety. They put less emphasis on Temple worship and more on applying the law to everyday life. Though they are often portrayed negatively in the Gospels, they shared many of Jesus' and the early Church's concerns about the law.) Jesus observed that the actions of some Pharisees betrayed misplaced priorities: they spoke one way, but acted in another. The story of the rich man and Lazarus demonstrates the importance of the care of the poor and is a reminder to those who would follow Jesus of the unimportance of wealth in the eyes of God.