At a time when more people in our country are being drawn into poverty, we have two readings today which strike at the heart of those who have and those who have not.

In the reading from Amos, the rich and influential are being called out, the prophet Amos is saying that those who do not look out for the poor will be punished at the appropriate time.

In the parable retold in Luke’s Gospel we hear about a rich man who had everything he wanted and did not even notice Lazarus; the poor man perched at his gate. When they both died, they found their roles reversed. Now Lazarus was being rewarded while the rich man suffered. The rich man pleaded for mercy and asked if Lazarus would be permitted to help him, when he discovered that this was impossible, he asked if Lazarus could go back and warn his loved ones of the fate awaiting them if they did not show mercy during their lives. This time the answer was that they had experienced the prophets teaching them just the same as the rich man had, so there was no need to send anyone else.

If we were given that chance now, to warn our friends or relatives that they were going astray, who would you tell?

What is stopping you from doing it today?

These readings remind me of the works of mercy taught by the Catholic Church –

Our Christian duty is to help, our Christian duty calls for us to be merciful. In the parable the rich man was not punished for being rich, he was punished because he did not show mercy towards Lazarus. A great example of this are the St Vincent de Paul Society, their members do great work and support anyone in need. If you need help please contact them; the number is on the noticeboard at St Bede’s. [It is the feast of St Vincent de Paul next Tuesday].

How can we expect God to show us mercy if we do not show it to others?

One could argue that perhaps the rich man did not see Lazarus, but Jesus is telling us that we do not need to wait for the opportunity to be merciful to fall into our lap; we need to go and actively look for those who need help. I know this is difficult, I have difficulty myself in doing this. I have spoken previously about walking past homeless people and how easy it is to find oneself judging them, but if it was your child you would want someone to stop and help them, everyone is someone’s child; everyone is God’s child.

In the second reading St Paul’s message to Timothy encourages Timothy and us ‘to aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle.’ He encourages Christians to be advocates for the truth, just like Jesus was before Pilate. This means as Christians we are called to speak out when things are wrong, to speak up for justice to be a voice for those who are marginalised or denied the right to speak.

Again, looking at the works of mercy, this is what is expected of us. Each of us needs to ask ourselves –

Where can I exercise these works of mercy?

Where in my life do I need to exercise these works of mercy? An examination of the works shows that everyone can do something. Even if we are unable to physically help, we can still pray for others.

As Jesus says elsewhere in Luke’s Gospel, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” [Lk 6:36]

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 1939-1942: human solidarity
CCC 2437-2449: solidarity among nations; love for poor
CCC 2831: hunger in world; solidarity; prayer
CCC 633, 1021, 2463, 2831: Lazarus
CCC 1033-1037: Hell

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • All the priests who have and will be moving to new roles this September.
  • All prisoners and their families.
  • Those working to help the people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • The volunteers and leaders of the St Vincent de Paul Society as they prepare to celebrate their founder’s feast day next weekend.
  • Those in business who have the power to make decisions to help the poor.
  • The 50 new Confirmation Candidates in Holy Ghost Parish.
  • Adelaide and Paris who are being baptised at St Bede’s this Sunday.
  • The families who will be completing the Baptism Preparation Course this weekend in St Bede’s.