Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1; Luke 16:19-31
The First Reading begins with a warning: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord… Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. There is a choice: to trust in men or the accomplishments of men or to trust in the Lord. If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us is we cannot trust in anything or anyone, except the Lord. The economy was booming, people were living comfortable lives. But when the pandemic struck, everything stood still. Many lost their jobs. Many lost their property. The pandemic was a lesson to teach us not to trust in anything. It is God’s way of calling us to turn back to him. And yet, we have not learned.
The governments have imposed unreasonable restrictions, allowing people to go to malls and yet, restricting worship services. The government has taken the place of a priest telling people we should worship via livestream or we have to limit worship to this many people. This comes from the worldview that everything depends on us. While we do need to take precautions, things depend on the Lord. The National Shrine of the Black Nazarene in the Philippines celebrated their feast day last January. There were 300,000 people who went through that Shrine on that feast day and no one was infected. Yes, they took precautions to observe safety protocols but they trusted that God will protect them if they remain faithful to him. And God did not disappoint. The First Reading tells us, the one whose trust is the Lord shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious and it does not cease to bear fruit.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells a parable of the rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen while a poor man named Lazarus, was at his gate covered with sores. Both the rich man and Lazarus died. The rich man’s riches did not save him from condemnation. We see the arrogance of the rich man when he told Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. When Abraham told him this is impossible, the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers. Even in death the rich man still thought he was in control. He still thought his position and riches mattered after death.
God is in control. During this lockdown, we need to learn to trust in God rather than in men. While we need to exercise the virtue of prudence, we also need to trust in God. The unreasonable lockdown will not save us. The vaccine will not save us. (If you think the vaccine will help, then take it). Only God can save us. And woe to us, if we think all these will solve our problems. If we trust in mortals or plans of mortals, we will not see when relief comes. The Psalm says the way of the wicked will perish.
Lord, let me not trust in mortals or plans of mortals. Protect me from harm. Never let evil come near me, for I trust in you.