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Heather TrottaFebruary 09, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.”

Today’s Gospel, which tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus, reminds us about the consequences of each person’s life while emphasizing the importance of compassion and humility. While the rich man lived a lavish lifestyle and could have easily helped and cared for Lazarus who begged at his gate, he chose not to. Because of the rich man’s actions, he and Lazarus had drastically different fates once they died. As the passage describes, the rich man ends up tormented, while Lazarus is comforted by Abraham.

In today’s world with its constant influx of social media and news, it can be easy to get caught up in trying to have it all and then some—the next fashion fad, hot vacation getaways and an abundance of food at our tables. This Gospel passage is a good reminder that when our earthly pilgrimage is over, we will not be judged by the size of our bank accounts, the success of our career or the cars that we drive, but rather how we have tended to the sick, fed the poor and helped those in need. It reminds me of Cornelia Connelly’s (the founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus) famous phrase and now the motto of the Society: “Actions Not Words.” It calls us to re-evaluate our priorities and deeds so that we can live a life that prioritizes love, compassion, and justice.

My 9-year-old son recently lived out (and pushed me to live out) “Actions Not Words.” At Christmas time, we signed up through a local organization to purchase presents and then deliver a meal to a local family in need. The warm jackets and boots were wrapped, the food was being cooked and everything was in order according to my timeline and needs. Then, a day before we were to deliver the gifts and smack in the middle of the Christmas hubbub, my son and two classmates decided that they needed to create a hot chocolate and cookie stand to raise money to ensure that the family we were supporting got something extra special—more than just warm jackets and clothes.

Despite a laundry list of to-dos, and truthfully, not wanting to stand out in the cold or make a huge mess by making hot chocolate and cookies, the children pushed me to put those excuses aside. They raised more than $200 and then, with great care and thought, bought gifts that they thought the children in the family would want. I’m grateful that my son had the foresight to see that we are blessed with everything we need and then some, and that it was important to share our gifts with others. I am proud of the example he set for my family and friends–-and for me. Perhaps we might all take his lead?

More: Scripture

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