In modern day America, company pensions are few and far between. Many people now try to plan for retirement by contributing to 401 k plans (or 403 b plans if you work in the nonprofit world). Those folks who are nearing retirement age are possibly experiencing a little more anxiety about their future than they were a year ago. The downturn in the stock market has diminished the retirement savings of people in some pretty dramatic ways in recent weeks and months.
People who were living paycheck to paycheck prior to the onslaught of the devastating inflation rates now find themselves unable to acquire even the basic necessities of life. They turn to others for help. Unfortunately, social service agencies find that the demand for their services are skyrocketing, but in many instances, their resources are also diminishing. Many of the donors who financially supported the work of nonprofit agencies in the past now find themselves in need of those services. It is a vicious cycle with no easy answer.
As we ponder today's Gospel story of the rich man and Lazarus, let us be sure to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. The challenges of life can seem quite daunting at times. In addition to financial difficulties, we typically experience other events that add to our suffering. This can include health problems, the death of a loved one, broken relationships, or a myriad of other issues. When several of these items enter our life simultaneously, the burden can feel excruciating.
As I look ahead to next week's readings, the very first line of the first reading from Habakkuk says, "How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen!" That resonates with me. The Gospel follows up with a message that also speaks to me, and it somewhat addresses my attitude when I feel like the Lord is not listening. "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith.'"
Ah yes. Here it comes. The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."
1. How will you seek to grow in faith this week?
2. How will you serve the poor this week?
3. In what ways are you living out the spiritual and corporal works of mercy?
4. What does "living stewardship" mean to you?