By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, September 26, 2016

Travel Light

There must be a knack to traveling "light". I just haven't found it yet. Quite often I end up packing in my suitcase a bit more than I need. You know, "just in case". But the "in case" seldom happens, and I end up dealing with excess baggage and more "stuff" than is necessary.

When this tendency extends beyond a simple road trip to everyday living, major societal problems ensue. When persons and nations pack into the "suitcase" of daily life more than is needed and allow their living to be weighed down by excess, it is often at the expense of others. Moreover, we can become so preoccupied with accumulating and keeping the unnecessary, that we actually fail to notice the plight of persons who do not have what is, in fact, necessary for a dignified life.

This is addressed by Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, narrated in the passage from St Luke we heard at mass on Sunday. The rich man is so totally absorbed in the enjoyment of luxurious excess that he is indifferent to the real lack from which Lazarus, present at his very door, suffers. When both die their situations are reversed: Lazarus is comforted in heaven, while the rich man suffers torment in hell. Furthermore, an impassable chasm is fixed between them.

The message is clear and arresting: we are to be the carriers in history of God's love and compassion for the poor; how we order our earthly life in view of this responsibility will have eternal and irreversible consequences.

By God's grace, may we learn to "travel light". The familiar saying puts it well: "to live simply so that others may simply live." Carrying excess "just in case" is a decision to trust more in our own calculus than in God's sure providence. May our own experience of God's goodness and love heal our blindness towards those who are in need and liberate us from indifference to their suffering.