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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Woe to the Complacent Lying on Beds of Ivory!

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 25, 2016
St. John the Apostle Awasi Catholic Church, Kisumu Archdiocese, Kenya

"Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph! Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with. (Amos 6:1a, 4-7)

Today again we listen to the prophet Amos. His words are directed to the Judeans, those living in the southern kingdom of Israel. He addressed them as "the complacent in Zion." (Zion is another name for Jerusalem).

Perhaps this warning came after the Assyrians destroyed the Northern kingdom of Israel which in today's reading is called "Joseph." Joseph is the name of the patriarch who was sold into slavery by his brothers, ending up next to Pharaoh in power in Egypt.

Many of his descendants had settled in the northern portion of Israel, which the Assyrians destroyed. The complacent in Jerusalem were living pampered, comfortable lives paying no attention to the devastation of the north and not concerned that their own country was headed towards the same fate because of their social and moral depravity. Amos' words proved true.

A lot of people say "money is the root of all evil," thinking they are quoting the Bible. But what the Bible actually says in 1Tim 6:10 is that "the love of money is the root of all evil."

Jesus never condemned the wealthy for having wealth. He condemned them for letting
Fr. Joe Mungai visiting the United States
wealth cause them to forget about God who had blessed them so generously.

It is like the farmer we heard about several weeks ago. He had such a great harvest that he had to tear down his barns to build bigger ones and he gave no thought to the afterlife.

Jesus condemned the wealthy for letting their wealth lead them into dishonesty like the unjust steward we heard about last week.

This week Jesus condemns the wealthy because they let money turn them into complacent self-centered persons like the man in today's gospel, (Luke 16:19-31), who commits the sin of indifference. 

Lying at his door every day was the poor man, Lazarus, covered in sores, who would have gladly eaten the scraps from the rich man's table. 

Today's parable would have been quite a shock for the Pharisees who heard it. For in those days, many people thought a wealthy man was a good person, whom God favoured. If a person was poor, sick or infirm, they were assumed to be sinners, whom God was punishing. 

But things didn't work out that way for the rich man, who ignored Lazarus and ended up in a place of torment when he died. 

This is the kingdom that Jesus preached. Those who wish to be part of this kingdom must love God and neighbor.  Love is not a warm fuzzy feeling, but a willingness to make sacrifices for others. 

Jesus did ask some to give everything away, but not all. He told everyone to love God with our whole heart and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. 

What should the rich man have done? Jesus doesn't give us a specific answer. Perhaps he wants us to ask ourselves what we might have done if we were in his place. 

He does hint at the answer later in the parable. The rich man wanted Lazarus to visit his brothers and warn them about how they should be living. Jesus said they have Moses and the prophets, that is, they have the Scriptures to guide them. If they don't pay attention to the Scriptures, they probably won't be impressed by someone who rises from the dead. 

In reading the Holy Scriptures, we are constantly reminded of God's love for the poor. We are invited to share with the needy and learn how to live generously so that others may live. 

Money is a good servant when properly used, but becomes a tyrant when it controls our lives. To hear the voice of God in Holy
Is money your boss? 
Scripture, we must take time to study, pray and live it.

In Jesus' days, people never knew what was going on elsewhere in the world. Now with the internet we know the instant earthquakes, tsunami, drought, and other catastrophes happen and leave countless people dead and  homeless. 

Knowing all this can make us feel guilty. But we can't help everyone. I try to help people in need according to my time and resources, according to their need and according to the responsibility I may have toward them. 

Charity does begin at home, but it does not stay there. If we all tried to do what we can,  we would be more peaceful within ourselves and beginning with our own communities the whole world would be transformed with love.  

As we come to the Eucharist today, remember where our blessings come from and offer thanks to God. We ask God to help us in the days ahead when we might be in need. Amen

Fr. Joe Mungai was first mentioned on this blog in I Was Thirsty and You Gave Me to Drink

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for updating me through Google+
    I've not been active on Twitter..and have tweeted about the same.
    Getting ready for Sunday Morning Mass. Shall go through both articles at the earliest. They've got to be great as usual..I'm sure. It's so good to know that the Little Flower is the Patron Saint.
    Bye for now
    (Needn't publish this reply....) However, I leave it to you.
    God bless
    May our holy Guardian Angels watch over all of us.
    Edwin Rodrigues