Lent, 2nd Week,Thursday, Mar 12th

Jeremiah 17:5-10 / Luke 16:19-31 
Jesus talks about concern for the poor: He represents something totally new. He is the owner’s (God’s) own son.

“There was a rich man ...” It’s instructive to note what the sin of the rich man is in this parable. It’s not that he calls the police to have Lazarus removed from his gate. It’s not that he objects to giving Lazarus the scraps from his table. It’s not that he kicks Lazarus each time he passes him. What, then, is the rich man’s sin? The rich man’s sin is that he ignores Lazarus. His sin is that he doesn’t lift a finger to help him. His sin is that he closes his eyes to the fact that Lazarus exists. His sin is not what he does to Lazarus. Rather, it is what he doesn’t do for him.
What are we doing to help the needy in our midst? “The sin of the rich man was not that he did wrong things, but that he did nothing.” William Barclay
Whenever we are on the streets, we are quite certain to encounter some people that belong to a so-called "class" in our society. We can be quite sure to meet some "poor" people, those who seem to be in some kind of financial difficulty.
They may be those who are really down-and-out and begging in the streets; there are others who are not certain of when they are going to have their next meal; others may be hovering just above the poverty line. So even in an affluent country, we do see the presence of poor people. And if we bother to go further into the matter, then we will realize that there are genuinely poor people in our society.

The parable in today's gospel makes us realize this reality and also asks us what are we going to do about it and how are we helping the poor?

That brings to mind that one of the spiritual disciplines of Lent is almsgiving and last weekend we received the Charities Week envelopes.

How much are we going to put into the envelope and how much are we going to give in regular almsgiving depends very much on how we understand what God wants us to do for the poor.

More than charity, it is our duty to help the poor, and it is also about justice to the poor when we understand that we are stewards who should look after the weak and poor members of our community and society.

It also underscores our faith in the Lord God. As the 1st reading puts it: A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord ... he is like a tree by the waterside ... it has no worries of drought and never ceases to bear fruit.

When we understand that it is our duty to help the poor and that it is an act of justice, then we will receive that blessing from the Lord and we will continue to bear fruits for the Lord.

Introduction  Those who place their faith in themselves and in the means they possess are not open to God or God's kingdom. They make themselves their own gods and adore what they have made. They adore the golden calf. They fail to see the needs of others, especially of the poor. Those who have more are not condemned because they have more, but because they don's see the needs of those who have less. We must learn to see also the unspoken needs of the poor, especially of the humble, of those who dare not to voice out their poverty and distress. 

Penitential Rite:
With Jeremiah we are reminded, 
-Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. LHM
-Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. CHM
-You alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds. LHM

Opening Prayer 
Lord, our God, many of us never had it so good and so, we have become smug and self-satisfied, happy in our own little world. God, may our ears remain open to your Word and our hearts to you and to our brothers and sisters. Do not allow us to forget you, or to place our trust in ourselves. Make us restless for you through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

General Intercession 
– For the poor and the destitute, for those who live at the margin of society, we pray:
– For those whose hearts are hardened and who no longer see the needs and the cravings of the poor, we pray:
– For poor countries of the third or the fourth world, that they may have due access to the riches of the world, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord God, you know what is in us and where our treasure is. Give us faith not in ourselves or in what our hands have made, but in what we can build up together with you and with your Son, so that what we are and do may be both a gift from your goodness and the fruit of our work, in Christ Jesus, our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion 
Open our ears, Lord God, to the words that Jesus speaks to us, that we may believe in your future and build up a better world. Open our eyes to the needs of those who suffer, that we may care for you in them. Open our hearts to you, that we may love and praise you, for ever and ever. 

Blessing  Eyes to see the needs of the people, ears to hear their cries for justice and mercy, a fair share in the goods of the earth, material and spiritual, that is what we all need very much. May almighty God be good to you and give you all these.