Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection February 29, 2024


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R/. Blessed the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.

V/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

V/. Blessed are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

At that time: Jesus said to the Pharisees, “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not do so, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

1.      For sure, everyone wants to be a blessed one and not a cursed one. But the whole problem is how one understands blessedness and cursedness and how one pursues the path that leads to them. These are two modes of being and living, namely being blessed and being cursed. They are fundamental to human living and are mutually contrasting. They also determine the whole meaning and the direction of life.

2.      Sadly, despite all intelligence, the world equates blessedness with worldly abundance, pleasure, and success; and cursedness with deprivation, failure, and misery. In simple words, those who have plenty of money and things, those who dictate others, and those who enjoy comforts and pleasures are considered blessed.

3.      On the other hand, those who are poor, those who struggle in life, those who are low in status and are under some others, and those who cannot have even the minimum joys of life are rated cursed and despicable.

4.      But today’s readings dismantle this thinking of the world. True blessedness is placing trust in God. And cursedness is placing trust in the world and its things. The blessed are like the tree planted by water. It is deeply rooted, fresh, healthy, blooming, and fruit-bearing. The cursed are like a shrub in the desert. It is dry, barren, and fruitless.

5.      The gospel elaborates on this contrast between being blessed and cursed by a touching parable of a rich man and poor Lazarus. In the sight of the world, the rich man is blessed because he lacks nothing and enjoys everything.

6.      But in the true sense, he is cursed because he places excessive trust in his riches. He is like a dry and useless shrub. In the sight of the world, poor Lazarus is cursed because he is miserable. But he is truly blessed because he places his total trust in God. He is deeply rooted in God and blossoms with God’s own freshness.

7.      The gospel adds another essential feature to this contrast, and that is sensitivity toward others. Accordingly blessed are those who are sensitive and generous toward others; cursed are those who are selfish and indifferent toward others. The rich man is cursed because he failed in his fraternal duty toward the poor man.

8.      Their fates are also contrasting. The rich man is condemned to the fire of hell; the poor Lazarus is rewarded with heaven. While on earth, the rich man enjoys but in heaven, he suffers. While on earth, the poor Lazarus suffered but in heaven, he enjoyed heavenly bliss.

9.      There is another interesting detail to note. The poor man has a name but the rich man’s name is not mentioned. This indicates something profound: the poor are “counted” in the sight of God. They have a special identity.

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