Amos 6:1a, 4-7
Thus says the Lord the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph! Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.
1 Timothy 6:11-16
But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And 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. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours. He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Once again, today, we are reminded that we must have concern for the poor, whoever they are. Sometimes we get used to having the poor and then we forget them. The rich man in the Gospel, from Saint Luke today, had clearly grown accustomed to have the poor man at his gate and no longer even thought about him.
What poverty have we become used to in our lives? Are there needy people around that we have become used to and so ignore now? It does not have to be material poverty. There are plenty of people who are poor in education, poor in culture, poor in human formation, poor in spiritual formation, poor in understand the ways of the world, etc. There is poverty all around us and we can ignore it or we can begin to respond to it with the love and care of Jesus Christ.
The Prophet Amos, in the first reading today, is proclaiming the same message. Those who have so much of the best of the things in this world can become totally insensitive to those who have nothing or very little.
Are you and I insensitive? And it is not even you that I must worry about. It is myself. Have I become insensitive to the needs of others, to the cry of the poor—no matter what kind of poverty it is?
The second reading today, from the First Letter to Timothy, speaks clearly of a way to avoid becoming insensitive to the poverty of others: pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.
The more spiritually sensitive we are, the more that we follow Jesus Christ, the more we become aware of the poor. If we are not aware of the poor and not going anything to help the poor, it is a clear sign that our following of Jesus is not yet strong enough or that we are not listening to Him or that we have taken a wrong turn spiritually. There is no way honestly to follow Christ and not love the poor.
Our righteousness must always be a righteousness of love—a preferential love for the poor and for our enemies because this is what Jesus asks of us. He tells us with great clarity: love the poor and the outcast and love your enemies!
It is our faith itself that tells us to develop devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness—and the test is our love for the poor and for our enemies. You and I are here today to worship the Lord our God. If we do not love the poor and our enemies, then we cannot worship this God who has called us in Christ Jesus.
Let us give thanks to the God who calls us. Let us pray for the spiritual wisdom to know the poor and our enemies. May our love for them form us in Christ Jesus. Amen.