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Loving with Jesus’s Heart
Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
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. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He 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.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 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.’”
Opening Prayer: Lord, help me in this prayer to open my heart more and more to you so that I may begin to open it to others. They are your children. Help me to love them as you do.
- Life Is Good!: The rich man enjoyed life. He had the finest clothes and the best foods. He had lots of money and he used it for his own benefit. Remember, the Jews believed that if a man was righteous, God would bless him with riches, health, and many other benefits. Perhaps this man was at peace, thinking that God had been pleased by the way he lived. Yet at his gate, there was someone who should have stolen his peace away.
- All for Me and None for You: Jewish people were taught that it was a good thing to give alms to the poor, and that they could be forgiven for sins by doing so. The rich man passed Lazarus every day and, as a Jew, his conscience should have prompted him to help, but he did nothing at all. Because he neglected Lazarus, the rich man was separated for all eternity by a great chasm from the bosom of Abraham. He had the wherewithal to beg for his brothers, but even those pleas were fruitless. By his covetousness, while he was alive, he secured abject poverty for all eternity. It’s a good reminder for us that our actions each day have eternal consequences.
- Am I the Rich Man?: Many of us lead comfortable lives. Does God see in us any semblance of what he saw in the rich man? How aware are we of the poor or needy who live nearby? We may not walk over them every time we enter our house, but perhaps we see them on our way to work or school or the supermarket. None of us can take care of all the needy people in the world, but we can certainly help them one at a time.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, open my eyes to see life as you see it. Show me how you want me to use my gifts for others, and where I may be holding back. You taught us the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and I know that these please you. May I seize the opportunity to serve everyone in my path, according to your holy will.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will review the spiritual and corporal acts of mercy (see CCC 2447) and find one that needs to be extended toward my neighbors.
For Further Reflection: The Corporal & Spiritual Works of Mercy: Living Christian Love and Compassion by Mitch Finley.
Father James Swanson is from Miles City, Montana, joined the Legionaries of Christ in 1983, and currently works in Atlanta, Georgia. He enjoys books, craft beers, and extreme birding.