Sunday, September 25, 2016

Live Well with No Regrets

The Rich Man and Lazarus
Sunday's Gospel describes two contrasting life-styles.   One character is “the man who has everything.”  Outside is a poor man with “nothing.”  Even in death they differ.  The rich man probably is buried with pomp and circumstance.  Poor Lazarus is likely left unburied.   But then there’s a dramatic reversal of fortunes.   Where do we find the rich man?  In the so-called netherworld.  And where do we find poor Lazarus?  In “the embrace of Abraham.”  A happy man!

Now why is the rich man condemned?   Not because he’s wealthy.  He is condemned because he didn’t "see" Lazarus.  He neglected a needy man.   He forgot the prophets who said: This is what the Lord requires of you: only to do right, to love, and to walk humbly with your God.

Sometimes we too don’t listen.  We don’t even listen to what Paul in his letter to Timothy tells us to do: practice virtue so that we may have eternal life through Jesus Christ.

A friend told me a story.  When you look through the glass of the window, you see other people. But when you look into a mirror, you see only yourself.  The reason is that behind the glass in the mirror may be a layer of silver.  When silver is added, you cease to see others.  You see only yourself.

The point is:  whatever we have comes from God.  And if we lack generosity and become absorbed in “gaining more” and “giving less,” we become like the characters in Amos and Luke.

Mark Twain wrote: “Twenty years from now we will be more disappointed by the things we didn’t do than by the ones we did.”  Think about it.  What do we want to be remembered for?  Take stock of your life.

Let me tell you about someone who lived a life of no regrets, a woman who was generous, a woman who exemplifies the power of action over words.

Katherine Drexel was the daughter of a wealthy international banker – in fact, the family firm grew into the Wall Street powerhouse Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Katie Drexel experienced a turning point when her family traveled on vacation.  She saw Native Americans mistreated and living in extreme poverty.  She witnessed African-Americans living in squalor.  She saw them dehumanized by prejudice and racism.

She became so passionate about helping that she decided to do something.  In 1889, at age 30, this heiress to the Drexel fortune joined the Sisters of Mercy.  Two years later, she founded her own community, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

Katherine Drexel used the income from her father’s trust to build over 100 schools in the rural west and south, including Xavier University in New Orleans, the first university in the country for African-Americans.  She also fought for civil rights.

Her life reflects an important lesson in the Gospel: the power of deeds over words.   Jesus is quite clear: promises can never take the place of performance; words can never be a substitute for deeds.  Yes, do good today.

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