Sep 28, 2019

Name Calling


26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 16:19-31
 
Although the Lord identifies the poor man who goes to heaven by the name of Lazarus, the rich man will forever be nameless and forgotten. During his life, the rich man did nothing great or worthy of heaven's praise. The rich man is really a “nobody” in hell, while the poor man is identified as “Lazarus”, a name honored in heaven among the saints of God.

Your name, my name, is not simple letters sewn together and registered on our birth certificate and then paired with a social security number and then, later on in life, matched with a photograph on a driver's license or passport for identification purposes.

Unfortunately, identity theft exists too often in our world. And we easily associate a thief as someone who goes to great lengths to keep their real identity a secret. At the other extreme, someone who has an inflated ego might want to make a name for themselves, so that the world will take notice of them and their name will be remembered in history, or at least significant enough to be mentioned in wikipedia!

But before the universe came into existence, God had already given each one of us a unique name, known to him, a name that he has carefully sequenced into the unique pattern of our DNA and threaded through the fabric of our soul. God calls us out of the crowd by that name.

By careful reflection and discernment, through testing and through trial, cooperating with the grace of God, our whole life's journey is marked responding to that eternal calling out to God.  This way, we can know who we truly are and how our individual lives might reflect our God-given identity.

This is what we do when we respond to our unique God-given vocation in life. Many will find their God-given identity through the vocation of marriage and family life, some as virtuous single men and women, and others as priests, nuns and monks. Christ knows each of our names, he knows what he wants of us and gives us the appropriate time to find our way to him. 

To gently help us towards this goal, God often disguises himself as the vulnerable one, the unloved, the sick and the forgotten of our throwaway culture. He does so, not to make us feel guilty. Rather, there are many around us God calls Lazarus. God sends them to save us,  and as a forceful reminder we all share a common home, common dignity and everyone’s life and intrinsically weaved together. 

Refreshed by the Bread of Life, may Christ's words and presence reignite our common vocation to help each other to taste a bit of heaven here on earth, so that one day we might all enjoy it eternally with Abraham and all the saints forever.

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