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The Way of Simplicity

1/18/2005 - 6:10 AM PST

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By Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC

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“This is the Gospel (Good News) of the Lord Jesus Christ”

“The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body… For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. …" (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thess. 2:13). Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) November 8, 1965, paragraph 21

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One of the privileges I have as a Deacon of the Church is to read the “Gospel”, the “Good News” of the Lord at the Divine Liturgy or the “Mass”. At the end of reading the Sacred Words, I elevate the Book of the Gospels and proclaim the words with which I began this article. One of the reasons the Gospel is “good” is because it contains within it the power to make us “good”, by making us like the One whom we encounter in its proclamation, the One who is “goodness” Himself.

Another privilege I also have is to periodically preach a homily, breaking open those words for the faithful as food for their journey through life. I consider this a serious obligation. After all, the words being reflected upon are actually being spoken by the Lord. The “The Word of God” is “bread”. It is also an occasion to meet the Father in an encounter. The homilist, priest or deacon, is simply a servant, making himself available to the Lord for the encounter between the Father and His children through preaching the homily.

Months ago, on the 26th Sunday of the Year, the C” sequence of readings in the Catholic Lectionary were taken from the Prophet Amos, (Amos 1:4-7), St Paul’s Letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:11-16) and the Gospel of St. Luke (Luke 16:19-31). I had prayed through the readings and written down a few thoughts. As they were proclaimed at the Liturgy, I was struck by their extraordinary relevance and timelessness.

I now share their substance with my readers as a reflection on the “Way of Simplicity.”

One of the continual challenges we all have, living in the “real world” is that of developing the right relationship with what the Christian faith calls the “goods” of the earth. In the first reading, we encounter the prophet Amos returning from the desert of Samaria. He found the leaders of God’s chosen people, given over to a wrong relationship with the “goods” of this world:

“Lying on ivory beds and sprawling on their divans, they dine on lambs from the flock and small fattened veal…they drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest oil for anointing themselves, but about the ruin of Joseph they do not care at all…” The Prophet then proclaimed: “That is why they will be the first to be exiled” Only a few years later, that prophecy was fulfilled.

A wrong relationship with the “goods” of the earth, a disordered relationship, leads to a blindness of spirit and a neglect of the One who is Goodness Himself, the Lord.

St Paul, in the epistle of the day, reminded Timothy to “seek after integrity, piety, faith, love, steadfastness, and a gentle spirit.” He told him to “Fight the good fight of faith” Let’s be honest, staying faithful is often a fight. There is something within our disordered affections that pulls us away from goodness. This is what classical western theology calls “concupiscence” and it is caused by sin. We who follow the Lord are to fight against that “pull”, and to co-operate with the grace of conversion. That cooperation unfolds along a path to becoming “good” as He is good. The Christian life is a continuous invitation to conversion through our ongoing response to Gods’ loving invitations.

We are called to live differently, because we now live our lives in Christ.

We see this as well in the Gospel story. Remember, it is “Good News”, intended to make us “good” through conversion. We meet a rich man who falls into a trap; he embraces a wrong relationship with the “goods” of the earth. Instead of growing closer to the Lord through these goods - by offering them back to the Lord who is their Source and using them to serve others, his disordered appetites blinded him. He failed to see the need of his brother Lazarus:

“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the ...

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