We are moving steadily through the holy season of Lent, and the Gospel texts place great challenges before us. Last week, we were urged to strip away our spiritual blindness and see the power of God in our lives. Today, we are asked to see in the person of Jesus the source of our redemption and eternal life. Lazarus really stands in the place of all of us. Because of our imperfections, because of our occasional sinfulness, each of us finds himself within a cave, the cave of our own limitations. As we enter deeper into the spirit of Lent, let’s endeavor to hear the voice of Jesus calling to us individually.
“Lazarus- John, Margaret, Bill, Julie- come forth.”
Jesus calls us out of our cave and into the bright light of redemption. It is a beautiful story but it is more than a story. It is a challenge of how our lives are to be lived.
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Today, we are still in the 16th chapter of Luke and Jesus continues to put tough challenges before his disciples and, of course, through them to you and to me. In the Gospel, Jesus uses the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man, very self-satisfied, ignored the suffering of poor Lazarus at the door of his house. When they both died, it was Lazarus who would be in the “bosom of Abraham” and the rich man would be in torment. The wealthy man was suffering not because he was rich, but because he was selfish and lacking in generosity and justice.
In the second reading, we get a delightful view of how St. Paul is forming his assistant, Timothy. He has sent Timothy to be in charge of the church in Ephesus and Paul cannot himself be there since he is in prison but he does give excellent directions. Every bishop and every parish priest would do well to read this excerpt each day. Paul is telling Timothy to live a life of integrity, piety, faith, love, steadfastness and gentle spirit. He urges him to witness daily to his faith in Jesus Christ and to live life without blame or reproach. This is a challenge that anyone who aspires to be a religious leader, whether ordained or lay, should look at frequently and honestly.
Onward to Jerusalem.
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