Who is Lazarus in my Life?

09-25-2016Weekly Reflections

Amos castigates religious people who, "comfortably complacent" (6:1, 5), ignore the unfolding collapse of culture, nation, religion (6:6). In Jesus' parable, such complacency becomes the rich man's undoing. He neither hurt nor harmed Lazarus, neither denied him leftovers nor ordered him removed. That is Jesus' devastating point. The rich man did nothing wrong to Lazarus; he just did nothing at all good for him. Only in death, separated by "a great chasm" (Luke 16:26), could the rich man finally see Lazarus, whom he had failed to see in life, right before his eyes. Like the rich man's "five brothers still in my father's house" (16:27–28), we who are alive in the Church still have time to see that same Someone, Jesus, lying neglected right at our door—and time to do something. Who, specifically, concretely, practically, is Lazarus in my life? What can I do for that Jesus-in-the-flesh during this Jubilee Year of Mercy?

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

READ MORE

Are you devoted to self-sacrificing service?

09-18-2016Weekly Reflections

Mercy is one thing, malpractice quite another. Why, then, does the defrauded master in Jesus' parable praise the devious steward? Jesus shows by example how to sanctify material goods: by placing all our resources, indeed our very selves, at the service of others. No matter how costly such service, or how minimal the return, such charity is the wisest investment, yielding a reward that is literally out of this world. For Amos and Jesus, authentic worship of God demands practical charity toward our neighbor. Paul, too, declares that the only worship acceptable to God is offered by a community rich in charity. Liturgy must be matched to life, "lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument" (1 Timothy 2:8).

This Jubilee Year of Mercy challenges us to live as "children of light," as devoted to self-sacrificing service as "the children of this world" (Luke 16:8) are to serving themselves, as enthusiastic for God's kingdom of justice as we are about less-enduring treasures.

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

READ MORE

How do you imagine GOD?

09-11-2016Weekly Reflections

When religious people complained that Jesus welcomed and ate with sinners, Jesus challenged them to change their image of God. Imagine God as a shepherd, abandoning ninety-nine obedient sheep to seek the stupid one who got lost. Imagine God as a distraught woman (could religious men imagine that?), losing something and turning the house upside down to find it. Imagine God as an unconditionally forgiving father granting an unworthy son an undeserved feast. Then Jesus added a character whom religious people might imagine, even recognize, all too well. The elder son stayed home; obeyed the father's will; then exploded with rage and judgment and refused to join his brother's welcome-home feast. This Jubilee Year of Mercy asks, which half of Jesus' audience do I belong to? How do I imagine God? How can I become like the searching shepherd, the sweeping woman, the forgiving father? How else can I expect a welcome to Jesus' feast of forgiveness?

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

READ MORE

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

09-04-2016Weekly Reflections

"If anyone comes to me without hating...father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters,... and even his [or her] own life" (Luke 14:26). Hating? Can anyone imagine a less appropriate Gospel for the Jubilee Year of Mercy? But scholars call this Semitic hyperbole. Jesus exaggerates to jolt us into confronting life-changing challenges. Faced with conflicting loyalties, disciples must reorder priorities, even relationships, to give Jesus and the gospel's demands first place. Today's second reading presents a real-life example. Paul challenges his wealthy convert, Philemon, to welcome back Philemon's runaway slave, Onesimus, whom Paul has baptized in prison. Not only with unconditional forgiveness but with a counter-cultural, world-shattering change of status—as an equal. No, even more—a beloved brother in Christ. What in my life does the Jubilee Year of Mercy challenge me to "hate"—meaning reform, redo, even utterly revamp—so I can give everyone, no conditions, no exceptions, shockingly Christ-like love?

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

READ MORE