In observance of Thanksgiving, the Parish Office will close at noon on Wednesday, November 23 through Friday, November 25. Thanksgiving Day Mass will be at 9:00 am only. Also, please note Fr. Trey will be away and there will be no Weekday Mass next week, November 28 - December 1.
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The Rich Man and Lazarus: Have We Stopped Asking, "What Comes Next?" (Luke 16:19-31)

My second assignment as a priest came in 1990, when I was assigned to Saint Jude Parish in Baton Rouge, with Father Mike Collins as pastor.  Fast-forward to 2009, and I was asked to come back and serve as pastor myself.  That in itself was truly an honor.  A couple of years after being here, Father Mike retired and asked if he could live in residence here with us and help out.  We gladly welcomed him.  While he was here, Father Mike became ill and required surgery. After his recovery, her returned and seemed to be doing better than ever.  He was full of energy and gratitude.  However, less than a week or so after being back, he was readmitted to the hospital one morning and passed from us that night.  It was quick and was one of the most difficult losses that I and others ever experienced.  Father Mike was my brother priest, my friend, and my mentor.

I’ve been thinking about Mike a lot lately, especially this weekend, in light of our Gospel reading.  I was reminded not too long ago that one of the things he would often say was, “Trey, in life, most people never stop to ask themselves, ‘what comes next?’”  He was right, you know. That’s another way of stating the reality that many people—both young and old—often do not consider the consequences of the choices they make.

Are you and I stopping long enough to ask that question, especially about the big things in life; not only the short-term but the long-term also?

Jesus tells a parable today, one with which you may be familiar.  It’s about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus.  Now, the rich man was probably a good guy, and he certainly did ask himself the question, “what comes next?”  And he asked it every single day.  But here’s the thing: he asked it only FOR HIMSELF and ABOUT HIMSELF.  He lived in his own little world, his own little moment.  “What’s best for me today?”  He was reckless and selfish.  And not only did he miss Lazarus at his doorstep, he missed the big picture—eternal life.

Do you want to openly and honestly allow this story to challenge your life?  All you have to do is look to the first reading; in fact, just the first verse of the first reading. “Woe to you who are complacent!” (Amos 6:1).  “Complacent” simply means, “too pleased, especially with one’s self; unaware of the dangers and consequences of becoming too pleased, with one’s self.”

And so, I ask you today: are you complacent? Are you, perhaps, a little too pleased with yourself, your life, how you’re living?  Believe it or not, I actually, specifically ask myself this question every single day.  Having been a priest for as long as I have (almost 35 years), and having turned 60 this past summer, I very much need to bring this to prayer.  And why?  Because—if I’ve become “a little to pleased” with: my health, my prayer life, my ministry, and in my own family?  Then, that’s a problem—for me and for other people in my life.  If you have (become a little too pleased), trust me, it will lead to the same consequences for you, regardless of your age.

Perhaps another way to ask the question would be, “where have I checked out?”:

  1. My God, my faith, my Church?
  2. My concern for the poor?
  3. Real “people interaction,” and not just digital interaction?

As parents and adults, have we bought into the life-practice that our kids have to be involved in everything?  Do everything?  Have everything? Have stopped asking "what comes next?" in that regard?

How many of us are sitting here today and, with regard to some part of our life, some relationship in life, are saying to ourselves, “I just don’t care?”

“What comes next?” needs to be asked at 3 levels: the choices that we make every single day, our purpose and vocation (because we were created for something bigger than being the rich man, something more than living for ourselves and for the moment), and most important of all—our relationship with God.  In this life.  And in the next.

Jesus never told any story for the purpose of scaring us.  He did it for 2 reasons: most of all, to express his love for us; and, as in the case of today’s story, to give us a wake-up call—if we need one.

Do we?  Need one?

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