Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Who Can Understand the Human Heart?

More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?  I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.  Jeremiah 17:9-10

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.  Luke 16:19-20

Prayer for Generosity
St. Ignatius of Loyola
Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.

This chapter in Luke’s Good News has a wealth of riches in it…riches of the Word.  Money – particularly “dishonest wealth” betrays its owner.  From the parable of the dishonest steward to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, we see the obstacle that money can become to living in God’s friendship. 

Of the dishonest steward, we hear that “If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?  If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?(Luke 16:11-12).  On the heels of this story, Jesus tells the story of Dives and Lazarus.  In it, Jesus reveals who has true wealth – Lazarus, the one who had nothing to eat in this world takes the express train to heaven and is seated right next to Abraham. 

The rich man goes to the netherworld fulfilling the terms of Luke’s version of the sermon on the plain:  “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.” (Luke 6:24-25a).  Riches on earth rots away.  Fine clothes end up destroyed by moths. 

Lent comes along each calendar and liturgical year as a reminder for us to assess, “What do we do with our wealth?”  Are we like the rich man who puts his trust in the gifts he has been granted and shares little with those around?

We ask the Lord not to reward us on the terms of Jeremiah but rather on terms of his perfect mercy. Let us use the remaining three weeks of Lent to test new ways to use our earthly wealth for the benefit of others. 

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