Readings from the Jerusalem Bible
Reading 1 Am 6:1a, 4-7
The Prophet Amos warns his own people in the south through his criticism of the rich and complacent people of the northern kingdom. The Assyrians have already started their aggression and it is clear that their neighbors have not headed this threat. The broader message is to remain vigilant and faithful.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
This is a song of praise and thanksgiving that rejoices in the saving work of God. The reference to raising up “…those who were bowed down;” has a strong link to the Gospel story today. Praising God’s blessing on the faithful may also point us at St. Paul’s letter to Timothy that follows.
Reading II 1 Tm 6:11-16
St. Paul exhorts Timothy to the absolute faithfulness demanded by his position. He concludes this exhortation with what appears to be part of a liturgical prayer from the period.
Gospel Lk 16:19-31
Jesus directs the story of the beggar Lazarus to his pharisaic audience. The metaphors used indicate that the “rich man” could easily symbolize the wealthy in their ranks (In the oldest manuscripts, the rich man is named Dives – an abbreviated form of Nineveh). The Lord points out how the roles of the poor in this life may be reversed with the wealthy in the next life.
The conclusion of the parable reminds his audience that this is not the first time they have been given this warning (pointing us to the reading from the Prophet Amos above.).
We should be constantly reminded that we live in one of the wealthiest societies on earth and as such, the Parable of Dives and Lazarus should be one of great import to us. We suspect that if the Lord came to us in judgment today, he might say “I see that you have been somewhat generous with your wealth, but your motives are suspect.”
The Gospel call to love one another has a special focus on the poor. As we were reminded recently, the poor can be classified that way for reasons that go beyond the monetary. There are those who are poor in spirit; the old and forgotten, the homebound and chronically ill. Mother Theresa, when she visited this country a number of years ago, said she had not seen real poverty until she visited us. Here she found the true poverty of the spirit in the lonely. We do not have to look to the developing world to find the poor.
And what does the Lord demand of us? We who are rich; rich in spirit, full of the knowledge of God’s love, overflowing with the friendship of Jesus in the faith community that is his risen and living body, we are called to share what we have been given. In a land were monetary wealth is so prevalent, it is too easy to write a check. We are called to reach out with something much more valuable, our time and ourselves.
The story of Lazarus and Dives we are given again today should remind us that the very comfort of our pews should be a warning. If we are filled to overflowing with life and love, we need to share that abundance with those who have less. If we do not know how, we should seek out a mechanism that allows us to do so. At a very minimum we should pray constantly for the less fortunate, that God in his mercy will give them comfort and peace in this world and the next.
 After Links to Readings Expire
 The Picture today is Dives and Lazarus by Veronese Bonifacio, 1540