Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
Sept. 26: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Joseph” here stands for the northern kingdom of Israel which had seceded from the house of David. Israel was “sick” because of the moral collapse of the rich who didn’t care about anyone else as long as they were comfortable. Amos condemns them for their complacency. Also known as sloth or moral indifference, complacency is one of the seven deadly sins because it kills that part of us that enables us to hear the cry of the poor and respond in love.
St. Paul’s words to Timothy in the second reading are reminiscent of Moses’ words to Joshua (Num 27:19). Paul’s exhortation to “keep the commandment” (Gk: entole) refers to the deposit of faith and the whole truth of Jesus Christ which had been entrusted to the Apostles (e.g., 2 Pt 3:2; 1 Jn 3:23). Paul reminds Timothy of the “confession of faith” he first made when he was baptized; a confession that is the basis of his new calling as Paul’s successor.
Parables all have one thing in common: they all convey judgment in one way or another. Reflecting God’s judgment against the moral decay that was ruining the nation, Jesus tells a parable about a poor man and a rich man. Lazarus hoped that he might receive even a small scrap of food from the rich man’s table, but got nothing. The fact that the poor man has a name and the rich man doesn’t is itself a statement of God’s judgment. The rich man went to hell not because he was rich, but because he was selfish.
Key verse: “Woe to the complacent in Zion!”
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”:
Pope Benedict XVI:
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. For information on subscribing to "Breaking Open the Word, click here. For archives click here.