Twenty-six Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 29, 2019)
Today’s readings remind us that we must continually be open to God’s love and persevere in the love we owe God. St. Francis de Sales remarks:
Both the rich and the poor are called to render to God the service due to God. We see in today’s Gospel that Lazarus, though suffering, perseveres in loving God faithfully and dies happily. But the rich man clung so strongly to his wealth that he made it his god.
Like the rich man, we can become obsessed with our possessions. As a result, we pray that God will do our will, instead of praying that we do God’s will. That is, we try to use God as a means to our own ends, which is an illusion. God alone is our true end.
Avarice is not the only disordered inclination. There are others such as selfishness, anger, pride or envy. Yet, if we are open to God’s love, neither our temperament nor our inclinations can hinder us from persevering in a holy way of life. However, abundant as a water source may be, the water enters a garden in full flow only according to the size of the channel that brings the water into the garden. The Holy Spirit is like a fountain of living water that flows into our hearts so as to spread its grace therein, if we give our consent. It is not grace that fails us, but rather it is we who fail grace. God’s enlivening love is never wanting to us if we are willing to receive it.
After his conversion, St. Paul, who was naturally sharp, rude and harsh, became fully open to God’s grace. Taking hold of Paul’s natural harshness, God’s love made him so much more resolute in the good he undertook, and invincible in all kinds of pains and labors. Is not God’s love higher than nature? Persevere, and with God’s help, you will arrange all your natural inclinations according to reason. Then you will become attentive to the love you owe God, and all your works will produce fruit that proceed from God’s Spirit, the wellspring of our spirit.
(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)