Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Today's Readings

Two things draw my attention in the readings from today's Mass (Thursday after the Second Sunday of Lent; Jer 17:5-10; Ps 1; Lk 16:19-31).

1. Jeremiah contrasts two striking images as metaphors for two kinds of people. The people who trust in worldly ways, physical strength, natural intelligence, are like "a barren bush" in a "lava waste." By contrast, those who put their faith in the Lord are like trees planted by a riverbed, able to survive even when trees further from the water are dying in a drought. But here's the most striking part. Jeremiah writes, "More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds." He's got that right. We KNOW - even not very religious people know - that God is stronger, wiser, etc., than the rest of us. So why do we - even very religious people - continue to trust in ourselves and our natural abilities, and make recourse to God our last resort? Ugh.

2. The Gospel reading is the story of the Rich Man (called Dives in many translations, which is the Latin word for "rich") and Lazarus (not Jesus' friend, but actually a common enough name in Jesus' day). If you don't know the story, check it out now. What struck me about the story for the first time is that the Rich Man not only ignored Lazarus, but he had no thought for God until he came to his judgment. He didn't call upon the Lord until it was too late, and then tried to cop an excuse about not knowing better. Father Abraham, speaking in the parable on behalf of Jesus, tells him that if he and his kind won't listen to the prophets like Jeremiah, they certainly won't listen to Jesus even if after he rises from the dead.

Let's not be like the Rich Man, trusting in his own ways and content in a Disneyworld existence, until it is too late. We have not only the prophets to remind us of our duty to love God and neighbor, but we also have access to the power of the Resurrected Lord who lives in Baptized Christians that live in His grace. We will be held much more accountable than the poor Rich Man was.

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