This weekend here in my home diocese of Down and Connor in Northern Ireland we have just launched our diocesan pastoral Plan. The plan which has been in the making for around two years through the Living Church imitative has a number of headings which include Passing on the faith, faith and worship, lay participation, clergy and religious and being an open and welcoming community. The hope is that from the launch of this plan to its completion we will become a community that will be co responsible. Being co responsible means that all of us the people of God should play our part along with our priests deacons and religious working together to promote a common vision where all are valued With everyone working together to further the kingdom of God in the Parishes and organizations that make up the diocese.
In Our readings Last Sunday we were introduced to the idea of dishonest wealth. Dishonest wealth is riches perceived as more important than human life and dignity. It consumes and enslaves those who believe in it. Honest wealth is riches of mind, of spirit and even material assets used with justice and compassion. The followers of Jesus including you and me imagine a world that is just, caring and sensitive to all. We want to correct what is wrong and bring all people into harmony and peace with everything that they need to keep body and soul together. Many of us struggle to do something about those things that beat down our fellow man. The parable of “Mr. Rich and Mr. Poor” which we hear this Sunday is a warning for prosperous people in our prosperous countries. Indifference to the needs of the poor is against the gospel.
The gospel for this Sunday contrasts the two attitudes of rich and poor, that of Lazarus, the image of the poor, the downtrodden, those left penniless by the greed of the wealthy and the tax-collectors, and whose only hope was in the mercy of God, and on the other hand that of the rich man, clothed extravagantly, and feasting magnificently every day, self-sufficient, not seeing any need whatsoever to ask for God’s mercy. In many ways we can are often like the man who seemed to be self-sufficient, not seeing any need whatsoever to beg for God’s mercy and there are so many in the world today who see no need for god and his merciful fatherly love in their lives. When our lives radiate Christ, people desire to know him and the Church, like a moth is drawn to a light. If we say we love Jesus, yet do not act on his commands or the teachings of his Church, then we extinguish that light and repel people. We have been given a mission to shine the light of Christ to the nations; we accomplish this through deeds and words. This is the call for all of us at this time in history. Catholicism does not hedge on the truth, even when the truth is not popular or politically correct as we all know the truth is not always welcomed. We do not hedge on our faith because it has been handed down to us through every generation and we in our turn will pass on the faith to the next. As we move forward may be like Lazarus trusting in the mercy and love of God.