September 25, 2022
Why Abraham? In the parable of Jesus, when the poor man Lazarus dies, angels carry him to the bosom of Abraham. Abraham is recognized as the Father of the Jewish people but why not another patriarch or matriarch or perhaps Moses or King David, the shepherd King or Ester or Ruth or one of the prophets. Saint John Chrysostom, a Church Father and great preacher, asks the same question way back in the 4th Century. “It is worthwhile enquiring why the rich man saw Lazarus in Abraham’s arms, and not in the company of some other righteous person. The reason is that Abraham was hospitable, and so the sight of Lazarus with Abraham was meant to reproach the rich man for his inhospitality.”
Abraham and Sarah are noted for their hospitality in the Book of Genesis. On one occasion they welcome three visitors not knowing the strangers are messengers from God who foretell that Sarah and Abraham, in their old age, will have a child. The author of Hebrews underscores the importance of hospitality, “Remember to welcome strangers into your homes, for some by doing so, have entertained angels without knowing it.”
The unnamed rich man enjoys certain creature comforts as some of us do like fine dining and dressing in the latest fashion. The Jewish prophet Amos, our first reading, chastises the rich man for enjoying the good life and indulging himself while ignoring his covenant responsibility to help people in need. What is the sin of the rich man that results in his ending up in a place of torment? He didn’t physically hurt Lazarus. He didn’t chase him away. He was not directly the cause of his poverty or sores. The rich man simply ignored Lazarus!
Jesus in telling the parable is reminding his listeners of the preaching of John the Baptist. People were drawn to the Jordan river to hear John and to be baptized by him. But John warns them, “produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” Don’t brag that “we have Abraham as our father” and fail to be mindful and careful of those in need. “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise” (Luke 3:8, 11). Jesus is challenging those living in luxury and complacency and, at the same time, inviting his disciples to live with compassion and generosity.
Hospitality and welcome are attributes for those who espouse to follow Jesus. When I ask people why they have registered at Annunciation, they often say, “I feel welcome when I come to Mass.” This hospitality and welcome are extended to those near and far. Our parishioners help at Response to Love Center, St. Luke Mission of Mercy, FISH and Alden Meals on Wheels. Parishioners provide pastoral care at hospitals and in prisons. We support Catholic Charities. When our school was closed, some of our teachers continued teaching at our Lady of Black Rock School, Buffalo. These teachers and volunteers from our parish are still helping immigrant families at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Buffalo on the West side.
I received a letter from Sister Catherine Theodore Uboh, Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus. Sister Catherine preached at our parish the weekend of July 30-31 for the summer Mission Appeal. Sr. Catherine expressed appreciation for the generosity of our parishioners – a significant amount of money ($4,401.00) – thus supporting the Sisters in their Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Sr. Catherine went on to write, “I thank you most especially for the warm reception from the moment I arrived in the Parish, till the time that I left, your kindness, the Felician Sisters and that of the Parishioners knows no bound! I cannot thank you enough for your generous donations at all the Masses on that weekend. You were all so awesome. The common word “Thank You” sounds inadequate to express my utmost gratitude.”
Sr. Catherine noticed something in us that we beautifully experienced in her – the kindness and compassion of Jesus Christ.
On Thursday night, the sky was clear. Light was streaming into my room. The source of light was a magnificent full moon. A “supermoon”! Supermoons occur when the orbit of the moon is at its nearest point to the earth – thus making the moon extra-large and bright from the earth’s perspective. This supermoon (#4 thus far this year) is named the “Sturgeon ... READ MORE
What would you do if someone gives you a million dollars to help people in need? I may be tempted to use the money for an exotic trip or a fancy car but a choice to use the money for myself would trouble my conscious as going against the expressed wishes of the donor. God has entrusted us with something infinitely more valuable. It’s the gift of faith. The author of the ... READ MORE
It was early evening and I noticed flashes of light outside. My back yard was aglow with light from fireflies. I sat on edge of my bed enjoying the show, captivated by fireflies communicating with one another, signaling potential partners, searching for mates. On Tuesday July 12 NASA released the first images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope of the early universe. T... READ MORE
Our bus pulled into Jericho. We got out to look at a very large sycamore tree. I remember empty glass Coke bottles tossed near the trunk. The guide said it is the tree which Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus. I was skeptical. Our bus continued the ride into Jerusalem. At the time of Jesus the road was called “Way of Blood” – blood shed by brigands and bandits! In ou... READ MORE
I try to reflect upon the Sunday readings a week beforehand. The Word stays with me during the week and events of the week give me “a handle” or insight into Sacred Scripture. I have been away for five days in London with my sister Mary. Our travel adventures have been a help breaking open the Word of God. On Monday we visited Churchill’s War Room where the Prime... READ MORE