What do you live for? What do you treasure?
Our readings this weekend suggest that our true wealth lies, not in the self-absorption so characteristic of modern (and sometimes ancient) society, but in our relationship with God and other.
We hear once again this week from the prophet Amos, who condemns not only excess but complacency, that sense that we are resting safe and sound, secure in a place of peace and repletion. But in fact the religious leaders of Amos’ time have withdrawn so completely into their world of luxury that they fail to see the kingdom collapsing around them. Blinded by self-interest, their only cult is their absorption in themselves, and in their own comfort. They have little sense of the needs of the world outside their own isolated universe, and have lost touch with God, the relationship that should define them, first and foremost, and with other.
Similarly, the rich man in the Gospel text from Luke has himself also become complacent, forgetting the needs of Lazarus, his brother in covenant, concerned only for his own sensual comforts: purple garments, fine linen, and sumptuous dining. Lazarus, on the other hand, has found help in the bosom of Abraham, embracing an identity of innocence and complete dependence on God. Having kept faith forever, he embodies the powerless soul protected by God in Psalm 146, set free for eternity after the misery of his life on earth.
So how do we seek right relationship with God? While we don’t necessarily have to suffer in misery, we can place ourselves in that same posture of dependence embraced by Lazarus, pursuing righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness (as Paul suggests to Timothy), remaining true to the core of our faith, which is the love of God made manifest through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Rather than getting caught up in power and worldly wealth, it behooves us first and foremost to keep the commandment, loving God and other with everything in ourselves, remaining true to relationship before all else.
How might you better demonstrate that you live for God, and for other?
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.