In his apostolic letter closing the Great Jubilee of 2000, Pope John Paul II returned to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the universal call to holiness. When the Church in its baptismal rite asks adult converts, or the parents and sponsors of infants, “Do you wish baptism?” the Church is asking, “Do you wish to become holy?” This means putting before all the baptized “the radical nature of the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.’” Therefore, Christians are called beyond mediocrity, beyond relativism, beyond a shallow “spirituality.”
St. Paul in his letter to Timothy this weekend reminds us to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. “In the first reading the prophet Amos has harsh words that warn against the complacency, comfort, worldliness, in our lifestyle and in our hearts. The Gospel echoes this further when our Lord in the story of the Rich man and Lazarus depicts the lot of the wealthy and the poor. For all his worldly comforts, the rich man’s callousness toward the poor plunge him into ruin.
Pope Francis in his reflection about this Gospel, once wrote, “If we don’t think about God, everything ends up flat, everything ends up being about ‘me’ and my own comfort, life, the world, other people, all of these become unreal, they no longer matter, everything boils down to one thing: having.” My dear friends, there is nothing wrong with having things. We work hard; we earn a living. We have our possessions, but when they become our idols and we put those things before God, how can we recognize the dignity of our brother and our sister? As we near the end of this Year of Mercy, we are invited to reflect on these questions: Have I extended myself beyond mediocrity, relativism, beyond a shallow “spirituality” and extended mercy to my brothers and sisters who are created in the image and likeness of God? Or have I remained in my own faith comfort zone, afraid to extend mercy and love to the “other”?