Reflection for Thursday, March 4, 2021: 2nd Week in Lent.
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Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
233. Year I, Lent.
233. Year I, Lent.
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Today is Thursday, in the Second Week of Lent, and we hear the story of Lazarus and the rich man from Luke, Chapter 16.This story is familiar to us - the unnamed rich man enjoys a life of wealth and overabundance and fails to notice a poor man, named Lazarus, who would lie at his door. "When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham." When the rich man dies, he finds himself in the netherworld and realizes that Lazarus is with Abraham. Additionally, the rich man's pleas of warning for his brothers who are still alive, are answered with the reminder than Moses and the prophets have already shared the important message.As we move through Lent, the theme that has been on my mind these days with reflections, homilies I've heard and in my own prayer is repentance; repent in the sense of changing perspective. We are called to repent, or to change our perspective, and move beyond the mindset that we usually have. We are called to know our own belovedness, which helps us reach out to help others know their own belovedness. We are asked to enter deeper into our relationship with Jesus, and the poor. We are called to see each person the way God sees them. We are called to build a more loving and inclusive world through our acts of penance, almsgiving and fasting.As I have been reading and unpacking Fratelli Tutti (Pope Francis's most recent encyclical), with my Christian Life Community faith sharing group over the past several weeks, I couldn't help but make the connection to chapters 2 and 3. Pope Francis calls us to move out of the social category that we are in, beyond borders and norms. He urges us to reach out, like the Good Samaritan, to built a social fraternity built on love, respect and care for each individual person, even if they are not in our own circle or tribe. He calls us, like Christ does, to envision and work towards a more inclusive community that welcomes and lifts up each person. Christian love means prioritizing, or changing our mindset towards, a growing concern for everyone's personal, communal, national and international good, especially by including those hidden on the margins (93-98).The rich man in the Gospel today is in need of repentance, of a mindset and perspective change, isn't he? He's like me, and probably many of us, I believe, who are guilty of just going about his business, not realizing that his actions (and his inactions) are preventing Lazarus from being welcomed into a loving relationship with him. The rich man has blinders on which prevent him from changing his perspective, from seeing someone from the margins as lovable and full of dignity. He is consumed with his own priorities. And, the rich man suffers severe and lasting consequences for his lack of repentance and selfish ways.There are sobering implications for us, here. But, there are also beautiful invitations in this Gospel passage: to be co-creators of this loving community that Jesus envisions and Pope Francis reminds us of, in Fratelli Tutti. Perhaps some of these questions, that I have been reflecting on, might be good reflective prompts for us: What am I focused on that prevents me from seeing another perspective? Am I accumulating my own wealth? Am I protecting my own territory or reputation? Am I simply just concerned about myself and my loved ones so much so that I cannot see someone struggling, just beyond my door? Who or what am I overlooking? A person begging for money on the sidewalk as I drive to work? A struggling student in the back of the classroom? A neighborhood of refugees struggling in a new country? Instances of racial injustice in my setting that I am fearful to get involved in, to help dismantle? Where, this Lent, might I find God and the poor, in an unexpected place? Do I have a sense already, of where I'm being invited? Do I want to pray for the grace to be aware when someone or something is right outside my door?Let us continue to hold each other in prayer this Lenten season, as we repent … as we change our perspective …. as we move beyond our usual mindset …. growing in closer unity with our God, and with all of our brothers and sisters, particularly those on the margins.