- The September 19th homily is in the library ->
- The readings for this coming Sunday are at usccb.org ->
- I am presiding at the Sat 9/25 4:00pm and the Sun 9/26 9:30am Mass. I will also be celebrating in Spanish at Our Lady of Lourdes parish on e. 55th Street at 12:30pm
"Pleased to meet you"
Just as with last week's "how are you doing?" this Sunday the Scriptures challenge one of our social conventions or courtesies; "Pleased to meet you" as we say so often. "Pleased to meet you" is one of those things that we say when we meet someone and we can't think of anything else to say. It is too often an expression empty of meaning. Too often we are not pleased at all and in fact we are not really meeting "anyone".
What I mean is that the person being presented to us is not really "anyone" to us. Often we know we will never meet that person again so meeting them really doesn't even register with us. Even in the case of people we will have to spend a great deal of time with we often do not consider them to be very significant at this "meeting".
This "disregard" for the importance of another person is at the heart of the Gospel teaching today. The rich man's sin is not that he was rich or that he failed to give his wealth away - but rather that he did not regard Lazarus as a brother, a person with meaning, importance, as one for whom he was somehow responsible.
This disregard for the fundamental communion that we share with other human beings is what Jesus and the prophet Amos are teaching against. There is a warning here for all who disregard the bond of human dignity, the fellowship of the family of humanity, the responsibility that we have for the "human race" as manifest in each person.
The social teaching of the Catholic church encourages the virtue or principle of solidarity. Solidarity was made famous by Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul II and it is a call to act toward others as if you belong to one another. The other is NOT a burden, it is NOT a nuisance, he is NOT a possession, he is NOT disposable, she is not a servant. The other is a sharer in my human existence, my human life. The condition of the other ought to affect my sense of well being. We share a common life - we are called to a communion of life (in the image and likeness of divine life of God).
To what extent do I belong to all those I meet, especially those with whom I share church membership, neighborhood, workspace, citizenship? Should I not be sincerely "pleased" to make the acquaintance of my brother or sister, especially in the Lord? Solidarity calls me to take some responsibility for the quality of their living, their eternal salvation, their share in the bounty of the earth.
How about solidarity in our Catholic worship? Are you truly pleased to be met by all those people at Mass? Do you appreciate that you are entering into a communion of worshippers in order to receive Communion with the Lord? Without joining in the first communion, it is doubtful that we receive the second. Do we get this feature of our lives as God's children and brothers of the Lord?
Or do we just go through the required motions of "acting" like we're "pleased to meet you"?