Shared Homily Starter
1st Reading: Amos 6:1a,4-7
Psalm: 146:6c-7, 8-9a, 9b-10
2nd Reading: 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31
Today’s readings invite us to think about indifference and to remind us that our actions and interactions with others are an expression of our spiritual selves. For example, in the first reading, Amos is talking to the elite, who have acquired their wealth and all its trappings and privileges, through exploitation of their underlings, the peasants and the poor. Even their temple life has become an ostentatious show of wealth rather than worship. Amos tells us they “sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,… drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!” If Amos were speaking today, it would go something like this. “They have finest choirs and musicians, whose hymns are more about entertainment and feeling good than God. Their church furnishings and altar ware are of the finest gold, yet they are indifferent to the poverty and suffering around them. Even worse, they make their money by not paying their workers a living wage. In other words, their outward shows of devotion are just that, shows without substance.
In the second reading, Paul provides a curative prescription by telling us to pursue justice, “godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Our pursuit of justice is to be rooted in and motivated by faith and love. We are called to endurance as an antidote for despair. Our pursuits are to be tempered by gentleness. These are the armaments of “fighting the good fight”, which would be better described as following in the footsteps of Christ, or working to bring forth the God’s kindom. Paul says this is what we signed on for when we “made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”─ and we make this confession every Easter when we renew our baptismal vows. In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, the Gospel warns of the consequences of indifference, of not living our baptismal call.
Now, biblical literalists might argue that this parable is about the good man going to heaven and the bad man going to hell. But, I think that when Jesus told parables, it was about how to live right here and right now; to teach us to act with justice, compassion and love. So with this in mind, let’s revisit today’s Gospel. The Gospel implies that the rich man ignored the poor man at his gate day after day as he ate his sumptuous meals. This Gospel is about indifference, where there should have been compassion, charity and love.
Now think of acts of indifference as a river wearing away the solid ground of our ability to perceive our connection to God and the Godseed within us and within others. The river gets stronger and grinds deeper with each act of indifference until there is a gulf or chasm between us and All-That-Is, that is as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon. That gulf is a blindness that inhibits our ability to see another’s pain and the connectedness of all things.
An example of this is the media coverage, or rather, lack of mainstream media coverage for the TRC events. The only event publicized on Global TV was the Walk for Reconciliation. This was not only a post TRC event; it was the easy event, where bringing our open hearts was not required, where we didn’t have to witness the pain in the stories of the residential school survivors and their families.
Indifference to residential school situation has been and still is a national blindness. The media had the potential to help open the eyes of the Canadian public but the big stories on TV news during the TRC were a train/bus crash in Ottawa and a deadly motorcycle accident in Surrey, BC. The chasm caused by our national indifference is so deep and so wide that the mainstream media was focussed on death rather than giving at least some focus to something that had healing potential for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians alike.
But, unlike the news media, we are called to be points of light and life in our society and our communities. Willingness to participate in the work of reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters is living into that call. So as God says in today’s Gospel, we have Moses and the prophets─ and as Christians─ we have the Gospel. One of the Indian residential school Survivors, Geraldine Shingoose, who spoke at the TRC said, “Healing and reconciliation is reconnecting with your spirit.” Today’s readings are telling us that when our inner and outer lives reflect compassion and love instead of indifference, we reconnect our spirits. Because of and in spite of our own brokenness, we can become God’s instruments of reconciliation and healing, living into the Kindom of God within us and around us.
These are few of my thoughts on the readings. I now invite you to share yours.