Jeremiah 17:5-10 / Psalm 1:1-4,6 / Luke 16:19-31
“Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”
People can very easily replace our love for God, because they have flesh and blood bodies that we can see and hear and touch. It is easier to have a relationship with human beings than with God sometimes, because we can’t see, or hear or touch God, but only discover him within our hearts.
God is the source of love and he is the only reliable source of love, because human beings feelings fluctuate from moment to moment. That is why the scripture passage from the book of Jeremiah today says “more tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy, who can understand it? I, the Lord alone probe the mind and test the heart.” God has no ulterior motives when he looks into our mind and hearts. His judgment of us is just, because He has nothing to gain from what he finds there. Sometimes when other people judge us, they do so from their own advantage point, but God genuinely loves us and wants what is best for us.
All genuine love flows from God, like living waters that feed our souls. If we get distracted by other things and turn our hearts away from God, relying on other things instead, this love becomes diluted and dissipates causing dryness or emptiness in our spiritual life.
When this happens a lot of people do not know how to find their way back to God and start filling their lives with other things. It is easy to do this because there are so many things to enjoy in life. Nice meals, good wine, music, movies, hot tubs, sweet perfumes, sports, shopping, vacations, new clothes, new cars and the list goes on. These good things can become distracting though and as enjoyable as they are, they are not anything as deeply satisfying as a loving relationship with God through our prayer life and service to others.
The rich man in today’s gospel completely missed the point. He succumbed to filling the emptiness inside his soul with things that he enjoyed and it just got out of hand. He lost sight of what was really important and pursued his own interests and enjoyment to the point he no longer really noticed anyone else. His mind was on what was for dinner, the guests that were coming to visit, if his clothes had been laundered, or whatever. It certainly wasn’t on Lazarus, whom he passed by without a thought.
This Lent is a good time to start paying more attention to those around us, even strangers that we encounter in public, like Lazarus. There are small moments throughout our day that we can stop for a second and show another person a kindness or assist them in even a small need, such as holding the door open for someone struggling with a heavy package. The scriptures today are not just about the rich ignoring the poor, but also about ignoring the people we encounter in public every day. God sees what we do and how we act even in the very small things we do each day when we drive to work, go to the grocery store, wait in a traffic jam, or walk past a homeless person begging on the street corner. Maybe today, we should try to notice the people around us a little more, where ever we go, for opportunities to make their lives a little better, if we have the means to do so.