Am 6:1a, 4-7
1 Tm 6:11-16
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” This is the Gospel according to Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. Greed, avariciously filling all of our wants and desires, without regard to the consequences, the consequences to ourselves or those around us. Get it while you can, and keep it for yourself. Unfortunately that seems to be a pretty good description of our world. I got mine, you’re on your own. We are complacent, self-satisfied, ignoring the collapse occurring around us. Lest we make the mistake of thinking this is a modern phenomenon, the prophet Amos for the last two weeks has assured us it is not. He excoriates the people of Israel, complacent in their wealth, taking what they want, cheating the poor, while society crumbles around them. Their world did crumble, but I suppose the darker side of human nature is just too persistent. The wealthy man in the Gospel reading today has all he could want or need. He lives life large, a fine home, the best clothes, rich and sumptuous food, all the while ignoring the poor man at his door step. Or perhaps he didn’t actually ignore Lazarus, he just didn’t see him. Lazarus, and all those like him, simply didn’t exist, at least not in this wealthy man’s world. Not until he needed him. Suffering torment after death, he begs Father Abraham to send Lazarus to comfort him with water. Abraham says no. Realizing that he is where he will be, without hope of reprieve, he begs Father Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, for “if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” But Abraham again refuses, telling the wealthy man that his brothers have the words of Moses and the prophets. If they won’t listen to them, “neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” Our wealthy friend’s fear for his brothers was well-founded. The darker side of human nature is persistent.
Greed is good. We are complacent in our wealth. We live well without seeing the poor on our doorstep. We don’t even notice them, don’t even know they are there, until we need them. We continue on our merry way, with out regard for the consequences to ourselves or others. We still do not see, we still do not hear, even though Someone from the dead has come to us.
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 30, 2007