Thursday of the Second Week in Lent
(Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 16:19-31)
“Richard Corey” is a tragic poem about a man with a heart like a dry peach stone. Although he is much admired, Corey is still unable to show any compassion. In the end he kills himself because he cannot form loving relationships. In the first reading the prophet Jeremiah laments such a malignant heart. In the gospel Jesus gives us an example – the rich man who ignores the beggar at his door.
Certainly the rich man is not punished just for having wealth. That would be like chastising a healthy person for taking a hike. But wealth as well as health has attendant obligations which Pope Paul VI once called a “social mortgage.” The rich must share some of their resources so that the needy not lose their human dignity. Jesus in this Gospel of Luke never tires reminding his disciples of this responsibility.
Donating to the poor carries some risks. A beggar may squander our beneficence on drugs, and even some highly regarded charities have misused contributions. But we must not allow these concerns to override God’s call to generosity. Prudence indicates who deserves our offerings and how much is appropriate to give. Failure to comply with its dictates will bring about our heart’s malignancy.