I believe it is safe to say that each of us has a personal passion — maybe several.
For some people, sports — or a particular sport — let’s say football is their passion. They get excited before the season begins, they schedule events around the football schedule, they have updated team paraphernalia, their mood is affected by the outcome of games.
For someone else, the passion could be gardening — the landscape of their home changes with the seasons, flowerbeds are weeded, and there is a wondrous display of color.
Cooking — trying new recipes — entertaining is a passion for some.
Of course, others may be passionate about adult literacy and give time, effort, and resources to helping adults to learn to read or to read better — showing others how to develop a resume or to maneuver through computer updates.
We might find it difficult to understand why another person cannot appreciate our passion —- how in the world can John not like baseball and how can they fail to understand that there are only nine games left in the season and that the playoffs are about to begin, all leading up to the World Series????
Then there are those who wonder why we do not jump at the opportunity to support the local Ballet Company.
In the Scripture this weekend, God shows a little more than a lack of understanding for those who are not passionate about something. God goes so far as to warn us — with A WORD OF “WOE” — WOE BE TO YOU WHO ARE COMPLACENT. God does not merely chide us for not being passionate about the things God is compassionate about — God warns us —- God challenges us — God goes so far as to tell us that if we are T000000000000000 comfortable in this life —- to the detriment of others —– then we are going to miss out on the joys and pleasures reserved for the victorious in the world to come. [See Amos 6:1, 4-7 and Luke 16:19-31]
A complacent person is self-satisfied — self centered. A complacent person is content with what they have — and not too concerned about the needs of the other. In AMOS, God warns us that our “revelry will be done away with” — and we will want.
The sin of the “rich man” in the Gospel is not that he was mean or rude or cruel to Lazarus —- who lay at his doorstep, covered with sores and who was so hungry, he would have been delighted with dog scraps. No, the rich man was not a glaringly BAD GUY. His sin, his failure —- was that he did not even seem to notice the plight of the poor man, Lazarus. The “rich man” went about his daily chores, tending to his concerns, meeting his needs —- and not seeing what was right there before him —- someone in need.
And, we hear the rest of the story. The poor man, Lazarus, goes on to heaven where he gets his reward, while the “rich man” is dispatched to the nether world —- separated from the joys and taste treats of God’s world.
The chasm between the two worlds is so great — there is no going back and forth. Even the prayer of the “rich man” that someone go and warn his family is dismissed by father Abraham — with the statement that it will do no good — We have already had the great teacher, the witness — the Son of God who tells us how to live.
The WORD OF GOD — THE BIBLE — the book we used to sometimes beat others down, is the warning that will come back to indict the complacent, uncaring, elite who hold themselves about the rest of the “po folk”.
There is a part of me that does not like the “pie in the sky religion” that is used to console the hurting and the suffering —- you know, endure now, and your reward will be great in the kingdom to come. It is the message preached to the slaves for decades —- endure your sufferings, bear the pain —– and ONE DAY, you will benefit. I sure hope it is all true and that those who have suffered will get their JUST DUE.
I hope the first will be last and the last will be first. I hope that those who have already received their reward will be at the back of the line while those who did without recognition and opportunity and sometimes —- even the necessities of life —- will lavish in what OTHERS had while they did without.
I hope victims of injustice will find justice. I hope that those who have suffered in silence and cried in the night —- will rejoice boldly and smile in the sunlight.
The recent canonization of St. [Mother] Theresa of Calcutta reminds us of the message of this weekend’s scripture —– do we hear, do we understand?
Her passion, once in the classroom, became a passion for those who suffered and died in the street — alone. She suffered with her own faith-battles and apparently depression. She wondered if she had been abandoned by God —- and yet, she kept on living for the other — the one in the street. I doubt that anyone would ever think of her as complacent.
Like all of us, I imagine, I wonder when do we get “too old” to have to worry? When can we say we have done enough?
I can understand the temptation to “drop out” or “hide.” But, with a national election on Nov.8th, we are called to concern. When people are marching in the streets, we cannot stand still. When too many people are “worried” about which bathroom someone uses —- we must be involved. If GOOD people do nothing, if Good people sit on the sidelines, we will be judged as being complacent.
In some sense, I sadly feel, the day to “do nothing” will never come. As long as we have breath, we have to care about something, other than ourselves. AND, football will not be enough — nor will hunting and fishing — or gardening —- not even the local museum.
As long as some are hungry — and we have food;
As long as some are homeless — and we have a place to stay;
As long as we are accepted — and others are scorned;
As long as we have medical care —- and others lack medicine;
As long as we have clothes and a place to bathe — and others are shabbily dressed and wreak of rancid sweat;
We cannot be content.
Woe to those bishops who pander to people for money for their pet projects while children are uneducated, people lack housing, and the elderly cannot afford their medication.
Woe to the Church — Woe to the person —- who looks down at another, who refuses to understand — who believes SOMEONE should do something …. and then does nothing to help.
Woe to the Church — woe to the person — who fails to see who is right there before them.
Let us be passionate — on fire — dedicated — revved up — for doing good, doing what we are capable of doing — to make life better for those who have less than us.