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Lent Retreat - Week 2, Thursday

Thursday, March 04, 2010
Readings: Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 16:19-31

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke provides us with a tale of stark contrasts. We see the lowly, broken Lazarus, a man of extreme poverty, and the rich man who has his fill of worldly pleasures. The rich man wants for nothing, he has fine clothes and dines ‘sumptuously each day’ whilst Lazarus receives his scraps, and the only attention paid him is by the dogs in the street. Here we have a familiar tale of injustice, of how wealth and privilege, whilst not being wrong per se, can lead us into the corruption of deadly sin if due moderation and charity are not exercised. First and foremost, then, we are called to be aware of living our lives in a manner that blinds us to the hardships and sufferings of our neighbours.

One striking element in this Gospel is the fact that it is the despised Lazarus that is known by name, yet the rich man is not. The dignity afforded to Lazarus is not immediately apparent but as we read on we see how those who patiently bear their sufferings in this life will be rewarded in the next. Likewise, those who have the power to help others and who are blinded by their own selfishness and greed will be judged according to their actions.

Lazarus has his reward in heaven but the rich man, still full of presumption, refuses to acknowledge his own guilt even after death. He asks Lazarus to be sent to him like a servant and finally implores Abraham for special favour that his own family may be saved. The final passage reminds us of the great sacrifice that has been made for us all by Christ on the cross, foretold by the prophets, and yet forgotten or ignored by so many: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). It is a stark warning and one we should all take to heart in this penitential season.

Let us, then, not be blinded this Lent by the things of this world and neglect our duty to God and neighbour. Even our small gestures can make all the difference – a word of hope can change a life!

Graham Hunt OP


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