The 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 25, 2022
Lectionary Readings: Am. 6:1. 4-7; Ps. 146:6-10; 1 Tim. 6:11-16; Lk. 16:19-31
Theme: Remember the obligations of the covenant

This Sunday, churches around the world will celebrate World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR). Introduced initially as the Day of the Migrant in 1914 and extended in 2004 to include refugees, WDMR is intended to demonstrate concern for vulnerable people on the move, who are often poor and dispossessed. It coincides fittingly with the scripture passages for this Sunday which summon Christians to justice and care for the oppressed, the hungry, the imprisoned, the downtrodden, the widow and the stranger (Psalm 146). The scripture readings also summon Christians to confront the ways in which it becomes possible over time to lose sight of these covenant imperatives that lie at the heart of discipleship. 

In the first reading, the eighth century prophet Amos rebukes the way in which the spiritual indolence and material self-indulgence of the people of Israel have rendered them unable to perceive the decline of their nation (Amos 6:6).  It has also rendered them indifferent to the urgency of striving for the restoration of covenantal righteousness throughout the land (BarrĂ©). 

The theme of God’s particular regard for the poor and oppressed is exemplified in the gospel parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The parable is presented as a critique of the neglect of the commands of the Torah for righteous living, of which hospitality and charity towards neighbor and stranger are foundational practices (Gen 18:1-8; Ex 22:21; Lev 19:34; Deut 10:19). Amy-Jill Levine notes that Jesus’ approach in this parable is particularly apposite because concern for the welfare of the poor had increasingly acquired a soteriological dimension within Second Temple Judaism at this time and that indeed the Hebrew word for “giving alms” (tzedakah) shares the same root as the term for “righteousness” (tzedek) (Levine, 274). Levine observes further that even after death; the rich man continues to view Lazarus not as a fellow son of Abraham worthy of equal regard but rather as a servant (Levine, 288). He appeals to Abraham, but unlike Abraham, “the Father of Many Nations” (Gen 17:5), he is unable to open his heart and mind to a wider family beyond his brothers (Levine, 291)). Jesus concludes the parable by reminding his audience that “listening” is at the heart of discipleship. The parable itself demonstrates that “listening” must be accompanied by “doing” as the mark of faithful discipleship. Both are necessary – “to listen and to do.”

This Sunday’s readings challenge us to reflect on the call to eternal life that God extends to everyone (1 Tim 6:11) and our own faith-responsibility to participate as mature Christians in this work of salvation through service to the human family, especially the poor and dispossessed. 

For Reflection and Discussion: 1. The recent launch of commercial space tourism reignited debates on the ethics of spending billions on such ventures while almost half of the world’s population still struggle to meet basic needs. In what ways can people of faith respond to the ongoing inequities that continue to exist in communities? 2. How does the global migration and refugee crisis challenge us as Christians?

Bibliography: Levine, A-J. Short Stories by Jesus (New York: 2014); Barré, M. “Amos” in R. E. Brown, et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (London, 1991).

This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Carla Thomas
, Trinidad and Tobago/Canada, Bat Kol Alumna: 2018


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