Daily Reflection
March 4th, 1999
Larry Gillick, S.J.
The Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Jeremiah 17:5-10
Luke 16:19-31
We hear the words of God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah in today's first reading during the Roman Catholic Liturgy.  There are presented two geographical landscapes.  The first represents those who trust only in themselves, or what is within the human heart.  Those who turn their hearts away from the Lord, they are like a barren bush in a desert; they enjoy no change of season in a lava waste.

Those who trust in the Lord are like a tree planted near nourishing waters.  It fears not the heat and bares fruit even during the dry times.

We hear a dramatic and sad story in today's Gospel.  A very rich man spent his life being inattentive to the poor, one of whom was Lazarus who longed for even scraps from the rich-man's table.  Of course the poor man went to be with God and the rich man died  and was banished.

Jesus finishes the story by relating the dialogue between the tormented man and heaven.  The shoes are on the other feet now and the rich-man does the longing and Lazarus has found comfort.  It is the old story telling us again that we can only take with us into the next form of living, that which we have shared during this type of living.

How slowly our part of the earth changes from the dead of late-winter to the lively beginnings of early spring.  How slowly our inner ecology changes as well.  Lent can seem as long as the cloudy days of cold, damp March.  The Christian Community is called during these holy days to reflect upon how it and each of its members has been trusting in wealth and riches or in the God Who knows our human hearts and fears.

It is not a time for sinking our roots into the inviting soil of guilt or regret.  It is the holy time of the year to reflect upon whether we are experiencing lively fruitfulness even when there are times of drought or if we have so much of richness that we have buried our roots in their shallowness and so are drying up.

The gospels story ends with the rich man begging that there be messages sent to warn his brothers about his own and their condition.  The reply comes to him and to us that we have Moses and the prophets to whom we can listen.  We also have Jesus Who has risen from the dead and calls to us all to trust in Him for our worth, our truth and our hope.  Of all the responses that God wants from us, our trusting God rather than creating our own gods, is the most satisfying to us and of praise to God.  Our slow conversions can seem so painful, but, "more tortuous than all else is the human heart beyond remedy..."


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