The comparison of followers of Christ like trees planted near streams was mentioned both in the first reading and in the responsorial psalm. God used this analogy to clearly depict the fate of believers and non-believers. The first reading tells us that men who trust the ways of human beings are cursed. Cursed is a cruel and harsh term but God used this word to clearly state the truth. We know how it feels to sin. We feel burdened and guilty precisely because we have done something that goes against our very core. We were made in the image and likeness of God and so sin, which is against God, is against our very nature, and it feels like we are indeed cursed. God is reminding us to follow Him, because we were made like Him and to be like Him IS our nature. By following Him, we will enjoy peace, love and joy. Followers of God are like trees planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, whose leaves never fade (Ps 1:3).
In the Gospel, the rich man was following the ways of human beings. He indulged himself with earthly pleasures and turned a blind eye to the poor Lazarus. The rich man did not go to hell because he was rich. Material possessions are blessings from God. The rich man was cursed because He did not follow God’s call, he turned away from God’s heart and followed the desires of his human heart. Lazarus did not go to heaven because he was poor but because he bore his cross on earth, which is what God wants us to do. While bearing our crosses, we are being sanctified, to prepare us to meet our Father in heaven. The rich man then asked Abraham to send Lazarus to speak to his brothers on earth about what awaits them if they do not change their ways. But Abraham said “No…. If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if one should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31). Abraham refused not because he did not want to save lives, he refused because he knows that hearts unwilling to change will not repent even if someone from the dead will rise to speak to them. Only hearts that follow God would recognize His message. It is not the messenger but the listener that brings about transformation.
The readings tell us to shift our focus to what is essential and to align our hearts to our Father to be able to hear His message. We are called to set our hearts on the word of God and not on the ways of the world. In so doing, we are allowing God to transform our hearts to be like His. May we use this blessed season of Lent to turn away from sin, to change, and to recognize God’s voice. Only when we truly follow Him can we be like trees planted near running waters that do not fear the heat and bear fruit in due season.
Dear God, thank you for your word that teaches us how to live a life rooted in your love.
May we empty ourselves from everything of this world so You can fill us up with everything that is Yours.
May our hearts be like yours so we can listen and follow your call.
All this we ask through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, in Jesus’ name.