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This Sunday's Programme

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26th Sunday C

Sunday 25th September 2022

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Lk 16: 19-31

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard Jesus’ warnings on money and ridiculed him. He then told them this parable.

‘There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in the finest wardrobe. Each day, he feasted sumptuously. Then there was a certain beggar, Lazarus by name, who lay at his gate so destitute that he was covered in sores. And how he yearned to feed on the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. And what is worse, the dogs even came and licked his sores.

‘As it happened, the beggar died and was carried by angels into the embrace of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. Then, in hell, tormented, he raised his eyes and there, a long way off, was Abraham and, in his embrace, was Lazarus! So he cried out, “Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am tormented in these flames.” But Abraham said, “My son, recall how in your life you were showered with good things, while Lazarus had nothing but bad things. But now he is comforted and you are tormented. And anyway, there is a chasm fixed between us, which even if one wanted to cross, one could not: neither from your side to ours nor from our side to yours.” “Well,” said the rich man, “send him to my father’s house. I have five brothers and he could warn them lest they also end up in this place of torment.” Abraham said to him, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.” And he replied, “Oh, no, Father Abraham. If someone should come back from the dead, then they will certainly change their minds and ways of acting.” Abraham said, “If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if a person should return from the dead.”’

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 145:6-10

God is the one who always keeps faith,
who is close when we are overwhelmed.
God feeds those who hunger,
frees those held captive.

God opens the eyes of the blind,
lifts the broken-hearted,
protects the asylum-seeker,
embraces the weak and marginalised.

God loves the just
but upsets the plans of the wicked.
God’s love presides at all times,
our God, from age to age.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, you know how blind I can be to the needs of those around me. Send me your Spirit to open my eyes to see who is in need of my care, my mind to understand how to respond and my heart that I may show to them the love of Jesus your Son. I ask this in his name, confident that you will hear me.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

St Luke certainly lays the contrast on thick in this carefully constructed parable which is unique to his Gospel. Earlier in this chapter, Jesus had warned of the danger of money and had attacked specifically the Pharisees as lovers of money, who then mocked him. With these figures in the background we hear this parable.

The wealth of the rich man could scarcely be exaggerated more but nowhere are we told that his wealth was gained by injustice. Indeed, by certain readings of the Scriptures, the man could understand his wealth as a sign of God’s blessings. As well, the man certainly had feeling for his family, something recommended by the Law. Conversely, those same readings would present the destitution of the poor man as being his own fault. His indigence could scarcely be exaggerated more. Dogs licking his sores! As well, he was alone. The rich man wasn’t ignorant of the poor man: why he even knew his name but this meant nothing. So it would be with some surprise that Jesus’ readers would hear their positions so profoundly reversed in the next life. Being ‘in the bosom of Abraham’ denotes the closest intimacy with the Father of the Jewish faith while the rich man is condemned to torture in hell. While the rich man is not without family feeling, even now he still sees the poor man as one beneath him, expecting him to serve him by doing his bidding – cooling his tongue and conveying messages to his brothers. Abraham refuses these, referring to the great chasm that exists between them and stating this has come about because of the chasm that existed between them while on earth. The rich man simply did not share from his abundance. He did not cross the chasm when he could have done so easily. He ignored the many exhortations in the Law and the Prophets to care for the poor. He may not have done anything wrong but his acts of omission in reaching out to what was lying at his front gate have condemned him as much as if he had been the most active of sinners. The final statement about listening to someone who rises from the dead not only stresses the obduracy of those who lack compassion for the poor, it also brings home to us, the followers of him who has risen, the seriousness of our duty of care to those in need.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

When the rich man in torment asked Abraham to send Lazarus to cool his tongue, Abraham spoke of the chasm between them that could not be crossed. On earth, there had been a chasm between the rich man and the poor. It was not wealth, but indifference. Even though the rich man had so much food that waste fell casually to the ground, even though the rich man even knew the name of the beggar at his gate, he was indifferent to the man’s plight. And for this, he was condemned.

Indifference is not an indifferent sin. It leads to serious consequences. We need only look at the starving in a world with sufficient food, or the civil wars and genocides of recent years. The signs were there. We need only look at the slide into addiction, marriage breakdown and some mental illness. The signs are there.

The challenge is for us to become alert, alive to such needs in a realistic way. We cannot change the world…but we can help the beggar at our own gate. One way to sensitise ourselves to their needs is to ask: where is God giving to me abundantly? This may come in various forms: wealth, personality, gifts and talents, time. Then we ask: where is someone with whom I can share from that abundance? Don’t worry; you won’t have to look far. They will be at our gate. In whatever way God has blessed us, we are expected to share from that blessing. And just as God will supply for these people in their need through us, so will he supply our salvation through them.

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

Julian Burnside began an article with the following: ‘I had a conversation with Tim Costello some years ago which significantly changed my way of seeing things.

He told me of a time when he was running the Collins Street Baptist Church. A guy who had been sleeping rough for quite a while had turned up at the Church wanting a feed. Tim was talking to him. The guy said that that conversation was the first time in two weeks he had had eye contact with any other human being.

I can scarcely imagine what that must be like. That man had, at least in his own mind, completely disappeared.’

Further on in the article, he tells of his experience working as a human rights lawyer defending refugees. He frequently received and receives abusive, even vitriolic, letters attacking him and the innocent people he is seeking to defend. If possible, he responds to each letter politely but firmly. If the initial attacks had surprised him, what happened next did so even more. Virtually every one responded politely, entering into a dialogue over the issue and, in many cases, changing their views regarding the rights and needs of asylum seekers. Just like the refugees, they longed to be seen and heard.

Julian Burnside’s reflection moved into a reflection on what happens to people when they do not feel that they are being seen or heard…an experience that often comes to those suffering long term stress or from mental illness. As they are ignored, their behaviour becomes more extreme and they are marginalised even more.

We all know people like this. They don’t have to beg on our streets to feel alienated within our society. They can be the family members with chronic illness, the long-term unemployed suffering from depression, youth, who cover their failure at school with noisy bravado or destructive anger. Fixing their problems is often beyond us but we can listen to them. We can try to ‘listen with both eyes’ and in doing so affirm their value. This is a challenge. We rarely know what to say and our own inadequacy can overwhelm us. But that is alright. It only confirms that we are all beggars at the gate, one in our humanity.

The article can be found at ‘Alienation to Alien Nation’ (click red text)

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

Art Works

Movies

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on what needs the people you live and work may have. Take time to be sensitive to where they are and what pressures may be in their lives. Then pray, asking for God’s guidance in how you should respond.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

Sensitivity can be a tricky issue. We can easily be sensitive to our needs and to what hurts us but fail to see our insensitivity to other people’s needs and hurts. Take time to think about the people you regularly live and work with. Bring each to mind and pray over them, asking God to show you what needs they may have at this time.

Then take time to ask how you could help and support them realistically.

Rest in the love of your God.

Suggestions for the Programme

The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.

DAILY PRAYER

Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Our Father
Prayer

Or

Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
Psalm
Our Father

PRAYER

Staff Prayer
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.

Example
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Reflection
Invitation for share reflections
Our Father
Prayer

Another Example
Hymn
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
Psalm
Our Father
Prayer

  • The Cry of the Poor by John Foley
  • Whatsoever You Do by Willard Francis Jabusch
  • Comfort My People by Johann Olearius, translated by Catherine Winkworth
  • All You who are Thirsty by Barbara Ross