In a world of celebrities it is easy to consider ourselves the “have nots.” Most of us will never own several mansions, wear designer clothes, nor have personal assistants to do our bidding. However If we listen to the story of Lazarus in this weekend’s Gospel, we may have to admit we have a bit of the rich man within us. We often overlook all the blessing God bestows on us.
Several times during the year, our bishop challenges the people of this diocese, we who are so rich in God’s blessings, to look upon the face of Lazarus among us, and respond with prayer and financial resources to special collections. As I looked over the list of special collections, eight in all, I noticed that the majority encourage us to look beyond this diocese and care for the spiritual needs throughout the world. Most of us will never set foot in any missionary territory, be it in the hills of Appalachia or the plains of Africa, but these collections give us the opportunity to be a missionary. After caring for the very least among us, we are reminded that our assistance is also needed within our own diocese. Each year the Bishop’s Appeal video shows us many programs that help others.
As people of the Gospel, we hold a commitment to the future and the past of our church. One of our constant prayers has been for an increase in vocations. Two collections remind us that it is important to place our financial resources where our prayer is. This past August at my parish an enthusiastic, hope-filled seminarian spoke. His story was one of the potential that God’s grace holds for his answering the call to priesthood. We have an opportunity to invest in that potential, as he said, “first with prayer” and then by giving what we can to the seminarian collection. A few weeks ago, I went on a short trip, kind of a “pray and eat” trip. I stopped at the Sinsinawa Dominican Convent to buy bread, at a Trappistine Monastery to buy caramels and at the New Mellory Abbey to buy jam! I was touched to experience our past in the faces of the elderly priests and nuns I saw, be it heads bowed in prayer in each chapel or the warm, gentle smiles in each gift shop. Through our generosity to the collection for retired religious, these men and women hold the perfect trust that God will provide. And God does provide so bountifully for each of us. With each special collection, may we remember, that within each of us, there is a bit of the rich man and a bit of the Lazarus. How blessed we are to be able to support one another in prayer and in treasury on our journey to God’s eternal kingdom.
Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.