During these Sundays in Ordinary Time, the Gospels have been from Luke. Luke’s Gospel has three major characteristics that distinguish his Gospel from the other three. First is the prominent role women play in the mission and ministry of Jesus. Second is the great focus on Jesus at prayer. And third, through the words and example of Jesus, Luke exercises pastoral care for the wealthy.
Two Sundays ago, we had the younger son abusing his father’s wealth. Last Sunday was the dishonest steward. This coming Sunday is the story of Lazarus and the rich man.
Basically Luke is saying in all three stories: Look, if you think you will find meaning and happiness in your wealth, go for it! Be my guest! But remember: there will be consequences.
This is very much what Pope Francis has been getting at. There are consequences to the way the poor are treated. Nor is he just talking about material poverty; included in his scope are the spiritually, mentally, and physically poor. He speaks to all who exercise power in church, state, and society: Care for the least fortunate or there will be consequences. As for the consequences, he is not threatening hellfire or anything like that. He is saying that the consequence will be the loss of all that is good and beautiful in our humanity.
Pope Francis is really trying to change the focus of the Church … not just of those in power but of we common folk as well. Nothing has changed in terms of teaching, and yet everything has changed. Right now most folks are focused on what he has said (or not said) about the hot-button social issues and on the use of clerical power. I wonder what will happen when his economic message takes hold. After all, he’s speaking what is in the hearts of millions of Lazarus-es in the world.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, and laugh often!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.