Thursday, February 25, 2016

Turn My Heart to You, Lord

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

February 25, 2016

By Beth DeCristofaro

Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. … 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 17:5-6, 10)

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. … (After he died the rich man) 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. ’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.’” (Luke 16:19-21, 27-28, 31)

Lord Jesus, May I see your brother and your sister at my door.  May I rest my heart in you and be drenched your life-giving presence so that those who you send to me might experience your living grace.  Help me to listen to you and resist seeking my strength in flesh.  May I follow your call to the Cross today. 

Isn’t it very difficult to feel anything but disdain and superiority for the unnamed rich man?  Who would actually ignore a starving man on their doorstep?  I like to think I’d at least give Lazarus a sandwich and bus fare to the nearest shelter.

But if I try to put myself into his very comfortable Ferragamo loafers and ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration it isn’t hard to see distinct relatedness.  Not that I wear Jimmy Choo.  Of course not, that’s extravagant I applaud myself.  However my closet has a selection of comfortable shoes to choose from depending on my outfit which most homeless people do not.  For that matter I have a closet in a house with heat, walls and a floor which most refugees do not.  My family has two cars that get us to our jobs and vacations which migrants do not.  I have an incredibly supportive husband who is a wonderful father; single mothers do not.  We have insurance for our health concerns which still millions of Americans do not.

In the Gospel yesterday, Jesus reminded his disciples that their choice should be service not status or power.  He tells them that to be His friends they must choose His cross.  Lazarus’ story gives them a stark picture of what their requests for glory would result in.  Jesus helps them realize their relatedness to each other, that they are part of His community not individuals whose wants and needs trump everything else.

We are not called on to save the whole world because Jesus saved it for us.  However we are called to be His brothers, sisters and friends and also to be friends of those he loves.  We cannot do so if we will not see the needy around us and in our communities.  Without seeing those in need as brothers and sisters in Christ we  can grow insensitive, self-absorbed and distrustful that our purple garments, fine linen, comfortable shoes and homes are threatened.  Ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with the generosity and expansiveness of the beatitudes in our daily activities as well as our civic vision during this election season.

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