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Old Calendar: Quinquagesima Sunday
Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
The first reading is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 49:14-15. The second suffering servant song of Isaiah (Isaiah 49:1-7) almost immediately precedes our 1st reading today. Commentators see the suffering servant as representing not only an individual, but a people as well; the people of Israel (the 12 tribes, not the northern kingdom).
The second reading
is from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 4:1-5. As we finish our journey through 1st Corinthians for this cycle of readings, we are once again reminded by Saint Paul that divisions in the Church cannot be tolerated; we are all members of the one body. Because we all belong to the one body, we can't judge other parts because in doing so we are judging ourselves. There is only one judge, Christ, and we must all answer to Him.
is taken from St. Matthew (6:24-34). The lesson is evident : God must have first place in our lives, if we really believe in a future, eternal life, as all Christians, and most other sane men do. But we still must earn our living and work our passage through life. What Christ is warning us against is that we must not get so attached to, and so enslaved by, the things of this world, that we neglect God and our own eternal happiness.
Most of us will say: "there is little danger that we shall get enslaved by the wealth of this world – we have so little of it." But a man can get so attached to the little he has and so anxious to increase it, that he can cut God out of his life and forget the one thing necessary. Remember that a man can be drowned as easily in a tub of water as he could be in the deepest point in the Atlantic ocean. It is not the possession of the things of this world that Christ forbids, but letting the things of this world possess us. While we make the wealth and the goods of this earth serve our eternal purpose we can be true followers of Christ, but if we let them enslave us to the exclusion of that purpose then we are indeed on the wrong road.
In the parable of Dives and Lazarus, it was not the possession of much wealth that brought Dives to hell. but the wrong use of it. He lacked charity. He ignored his needy neighbors. He selfishly tried to spend all his wealth on himself. Neither was it the poverty of Lazarus that brought him to Abraham's bosom, but the willing acceptance of his lot. He was unable, through illness, to earn his bread. He got little charity from those who could and should have helped him. Yet he bore with his misfortune patiently and so earned heaven. The fact is, of course, that not all rich men will go to hell. Neither will all beggars go to heaven.
While we work honestly for our living, we have every right to our just wage and have every freedom to spend what we earn on the necessities of life for ourselves and our families. We can also make the normal provisions for the years that may lie ahead. What our Lord is condemning is the inordinate love of riches and the things of this world – a love so inordinate that it leaves us no time, and no desire, to look for, and provide for, our real future – the life that begins when we leave this earth and all that it has.
Excerpted from The Sunday Readings
by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.