September 29, 2013

Sanctifying Sunday- God's Poor

Matt is taking over for another Sanctifying Sunday. I was completely distracted by one squirmy Hopie girl and one talking Gracie girl, so my reading of his words helped me to get a better grasp on today's Mass readings. I hope it does the same for you!

Yesterday, as I was driving our little crew to a party for Br. Joachim, I was thinking of today's Gospel. It was a party celebrating his return from Nicaragua and 10 years of religious life. It reminded me of many things, but most importantly the abundance that exists here in the U.S.A. The night before Br. Joachim told me that the average daily wage is $4 US dollars in Nicaragua!  

We pulled off the interstate and at the end of the exit was a man holding a sign written: "HARD TIMES need HELP." I didn't have any money on me, but I thought I would at least make eye contact and shoot a smile. I wasn't uncomfortable in the least, but let's just say he wasn't interested in eye contact and smiles. So, we proceeded on our way with Grace serenading us with twinkle twinkle little star from the back seat. 
I will warn you that the readings for the Mass (Amos 6: 1-4) today should have had you shifting in your seat. Simply put, the words from the Holy Scriptures are great action words calling us to fight for our faith.  

This is what I conjure up in my head as I listen to the words of Amos:
  •       WOE to you that lie down on beds of ivory (in my case it's a Tempur-Pedic).
  •       WOE to those that eat to excess (I just ordered Domino's low-cal Gfree pizza). 
  •       WOE to those who drink wine from bowls (we have Reidel glasses made of crystal).
  •       WOE to those who use the best anointing oils (we use DoTerra essential-oils). 
  •       WOE to you for being materially blessed!
It's ever so interesting that the material blessings (like my beloved body molding, top of the line mattress) can lead to complacency, then to lack of faith, and ultimately to self reliance. All of a sudden all that "stuff" that we thought was from God is now from us and we've confused the order of things.
Complacency is in direct competition for our faith. St. Paul (1 Timothy 6: 11-16) exhorts us to pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. These are all other orientated words not selfish words resting on the laurels of complacency.

Ok, now stay with me...

Then our Gospel for today is the parable told by Jesus about poor, hungry Lazarus who would gladly have eaten scraps fallen from the table of the opulent rich man. The vivid imagery is so thought provoking that Jesus drives this one home by telling us that dogs even licked Lazarus' sores. Lazarus was clothed in sores that were licked by dogs and the rich man who was dressed in fine purple linens was stuffing his face.

Sometimes I just want to say: "Jesus, I got it." Disgusting. The rich guy probably had to walk over/past Lazarus several times a day.  I wonder if he was uncomfortable stepping over him? The story goes that the rich man dies and Lazarus dies. Both succumbing to sister death. The rich man is buried, not an insignificant fact, because nothing is mentioned about Lazarus' funeral. Another significant point is that the rich man lacks a name and Lazarus has one, which shows that the poor are important to God. 

The story in Luke continues to jab at our chests for after the rich man dies he is so thirsty that he even requests if Lazarus with his fingers, most likely having dirt covered sores on them, could just dip them in some water so he could get some relief. When he is denied this, he then requests that someone go and tell his brothers of the impending doom. But, he's denied again.
A picture of our 4 little people to keep you with me. 
So what is all this telling us?

God has a sympathetic heart for the poor. He cares for the poor and he cares about how we treat the poor.  It's not the lack of material possessions that is endearing to God. But that the poor CAN posses spiritual riches possibly easier than that the materially rich without all the "stuff" in the way. The poor don't have the illusion of self sufficiency. Nor do they presume that they can save themselves. Finally, the poor can more easily recognize the need for a Savior. Finally, Finally, (as a disclaimer) God doesn't mention Lazarus' lack of illusion, or disorientated sense of self, or a need for a savior. God just tells us that the poor are really important to him.

Paradoxically, often Jesus tells parables that start in the material world and move to the spiritual world. Likewise, parables often seem to be stating a lot about humanity, but in the end tell even more about the nature and essence of God.  

To me this parable actually seems to be more about God than it is about us. It challenges us to reconsider and rethink the poor in our lives and how we treat the guy at the end of the interstate exit. It's serious and addressed rather poignantly in Matthew 25: "What ever you did for the least of my people you did to me."

It's as if God is revealing to us the true gift of faith and the duty it brings to love and care for the poor. This gift of faith has to be something competed for, worked for, and not something that we can become complacent in our chase loungers or Tempur-Pedic beds.
I love being challenged to go deeper (well, most of the time), to squirm in the pew and think: "Oh boy, this God loves me. REALLY loves me. And wants me to hear this message loud and clear and to LOVE HIS POOR."

We had a victory the other night here in the Loboda household. Isaiah, my oldest son, wanted to say the grace before dinner. Now, every time I've said grace for 15+ years I pray for the poor before I eat. Isaiah's prayer, though slightly revamped from my own, asked God to bless our food and to bless all of those that had no food this night to eat- AMEN. Tears welled up in my eyes. It can be easy to not be thankful, to be selfish, to be complacent, to take our faith and the poor for granted. I'm proud of Isaiah and I know that childlike prayer falls on the ears of God like a lead balloon. 

Our Zah catching a fish.

Tonight before I sit on my lush couch watching my $1,000 flat screen TV, I plan to pray for the poor and to ask God to help me to recognize them more in my day to day life. 
Peace, Matt


  1. Thanks for the inspiration. I love your words Matt....very easy to follow you...and I love all the kid pics! Sure miss you guys!

  2. Thanks for the inspiration. I love your words Matt....very easy to follow you...and I love all the kid pics! Sure miss you guys!

    1. Awwe, thanks Shirley. I will make sure Matt sees this! We miss you too :).

  3. Matt needs som comment love up in here people! :) great words Matt! Now just to absorb and transmit that message to the small heathens. Take care, Lodoba Fam!!

    1. Your sweet. As you know, Matt will love that you left a comment :). We have to talk soon, like tomorrow!

  4. Good one, Matt - gives us lots to think about! I really like how you said that it's easy for material things that are gifts from God can become more of who we are than we think... and that "Complacency is in direct competition for our faith."
    I always look forward to these - and to all of Maz's posts, as well.
    Love you guys!


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