This the title of a sermon from last Sunday preached by Fr. Robert Pecotte, posted at CUF.org (emphasis mine):

“If they will not be listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

Last week we heard Jesus proclaim, “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Lk. 16:13).

This week He follows this up with the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus directly confronts the predominant evil that entices man away from God, the love of money. St. Paul states in 1 Timothy, “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:10).

And the prophet Amos warns of the dire consequences of living a posh life instead of living a life devoted to the Lord and the love of one’s neighbor “They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best of oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Jospeh! Therefore they shall be the fist to go into exile and their wanton revelry shall be done away with” (Amos 6:6–7).

How do these words fall on our ears? Do we hear them with rejoicing; with solemnity; with fear and trembling; or with complacency and little to no understanding?

How do we respond to these words of Jesus? Do we actually seek to better the lives of those around us, or do we go on like the rich man in the Gospel and ignore Lazarus at our doorstep? How many have died or are dying even as you read this for want of someone to love them?

Self-Centered and Comfort-Seeking

American cultural values are not of Jesus Christ! America is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. It has become the land of greed and the home of the depraved! I know that these are harsh words, but it’s the simple truth. Our hearts are corrupt at a deep level; we have been taught by word and by way of example (there are exceptions, but they are exceptions) to seek the most comfortable life we can live. This is fundamentally at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which tells us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him!

When we live each day in the pursuit of comfort, entertainment, and security, then we are focused on ourselves, and our hearts become impenetrable to love. This is why the love of money is the root of evil: It’s all about a self-centered existence that seeks others to serve, instead of seeking to give oneself away in the love of God and neighbor. This is why, even in hell, the rich man seeks the service of Lazarus.

Even the average “good” American Catholic/Christian is caught up in a self-centered, comfort-seeking lifestyle. Our lives are filled with restaurants, new cars, high-definition TVs, iPods (notice that they are i-Pods, not us- or we-Pods . . .), vacation homes, travel, and constant entertainment. How many of us choose to forgo goods we can have in order to better the Church? How many of us are willing to retire with less in order to help someone in our town or parish pay their rent, send their kids to Catholic schools, or go to the doctor?

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the situation is grave, and our eternal salvation is at stake. God gave us life out of His abundant love. The only acceptable response is to love Him and serve Him with all of our heart. This is principally done through the sacramental worship of the Church, private prayer, and an active love of our neighbor. Love isn’t measured by words, but by deeds. The Church in America is crippled by greed, it’s pervasive, and it affects the clergy and the laity alike.

Live the Christian Way of Life

Did we not just hear about the condemnation of the rich man who loved himself instead of Lazarus? He is in hell for all eternity, and he has no hope of being comforted, for there is an un-crossable chasm between the souls of the damned and the souls of the just. He was justly condemned, and he did not even have the fullness of the revelation of Jesus Christ! It’s no accident that a man being raised from the dead is mentioned. We have a man raised from the dead proclaim the truth to us, and we still do not listen to Him! How much greater the condemnation of those who profess Christ and yet do not listen to or follow Him.

When will we rise up from our self-absorbed sloth and degradation and claim the rightful heritage that is ours, the heritage of the sons and daughters of God our Father? Only when we cease to live self-centered, comfort-seeking, entertainment-driven lives and we start to pursue the love of God and our neighbor with all of our heart and soul. The Church needs our material support, and she is receiving less and less of it every day, because we are more focused on living in comfort now than in the life of holiness and love that leads to eternal life with Jesus, who is our only true comfort.

Let us, this day, leave the American way of life and start living the Christian way of life. Let us assist the Church more faithfully and consistently and let us seek out the poor in our own parishes and communities and love them! Don’t be afraid to speak about loving the poor and living a less glamorous or comfort-seeking lifestyle, even if it’s to a priest or friend—it just might save their soul. But more importantly, don’t be afraid to live that life yourself, for it just might save your own soul.

May the Lord bless us and keep us. May He call us out of ourselves and into His Heart. May He give us the courage to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we hear and preach, so that we can rest in His arms in the land of the living and know His love. Amen.

Fr. Robert Pecotte is a priest of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota.

Awesome rebuke of materialism!

WAC

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