“Giving Pledge” is an organization that asks billionaires
to commit the majority of their net worth to philanthropy,
either now or in their will.
Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet started it in 2010.
This year the Gates' net worth is just over 77 billion dollars.
Buffet's is nearly 68 billion.
In the six years since those three started the effort,
$365 billion has been pledged by 139 people.
In today's gospel we heard about a rich man who is not on that list.
Luke doesn't give him a name,
but sometimes he's referred to as Dives [DIE-veez],
the Latin word for “rich man.”
There's nothing wrong with having enough...
enough food to eat, clean water, clothes to wear,
a secure home to live in.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Those are basic human rights.
When people don't have the basics,
something is radically wrong.
It's sinful when poverty or war or prejudice
stunt a person's potential
and suffocate hope.
Dives had the ability to help Lazarus.
It wasn't that he kicked him, or yelled at him, or belittled him.
He just didn't see him.
In and out, every day, walking past,
and not so much as a penny or a table scrap.
That was Dives' sin—
indifference to the suffering in the world around him.
Today we're tripping over a world full of Lazaruses.
People are homeless and without hope,
here in Toledo and around the world.
They're displaced by war and famine and greed.
They're refugees, immigrants, and migrants.
They're the addicted, the formerly incarcerated, the bankrupt,
the penniless, the mentally ill.
They're the sex slaves and the work slaves and the wage slaves.
How much money is enough?
How much stuff is enough?
How much do we need
before we think we can afford to give something away?
We build up bank accounts, make investments,
buy health plans and life insurance,
sock it away in retirement plans…
always thinking we need more,
always feeling insecure.
And it's never enough,
so we hold on to everything
and lose the precious chance to help others.
Those billionaires who follow through with their Giving Pledge
will have billions left after they give half of it away.
They're generous, and that's good,
but it's not quite the widow's mite,
the woman who gave
not what was extra
but what she needed to thrive.
That's the kind of generosity I see in Toledo.
Joseph is one of the regular guests at Claver House.
He's young, in his 30s.
He's homeless, living at the Cherry Street Mission.
When he arrives for breakfast, he's a ray of sunshine,
even on a bleak rainy day.
When the volunteers put a basket of fruit
or a carton of chips or yogurt out,
Joseph is the one who makes sure that everybody gets some,
even if there's nothing left for him.
And when he leaves, he calls out,
“I am blessed! You have a blessed day, too!”
Joseph is doing
what the Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt advised
when he said we can't turn our backs on the poor.
All that Joseph has is his cheerfulness,
and he spreads it around everywhere he goes.
Pope Francis says that many of the wealthy have a heart problem
—a growing inattention to anything but their own desires.
They are spiritually destitute.
We've all heard the excuses they make.
“Those people” are illegal, it's too inconvenient, too far away.
They'd just buy alcohol with it, they're too far gone to be helped.
“Those people” need to get a job and buckle down
and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they say...
“like I did.”
Paul's letter to Timothy give us the prescription
to cure that heart problem—
love one another.
We do that here at Holy Spirit.
Each one of you spends time
and lends expertise
and donates to justice and peace causes.
Some of you ran—well, walked or trotted—
in the Race for the Cure this weekend,
or volunteered or donated to help make it happen.
All of you participated in the annual Global Compassion event
that ended Wednesday.
And every month we sit around the potluck
at our community meeting
and very deliberately spend
a portion of the generous offerings of our members.
Among other things,
we have helped the homeless through 1Matters,
Syrian refugees through UStogether,
people in need through Claver House,
women trapped in prostitution through Rahab's Heart,
central city children through Padua Center,
people caught in disasters through Catholic Charities,
our own parishioners through our Special Needs Fund,
and our struggling planet through Tree Toledo.
We'll meet again tomorrow night [tonight] after Mass
and put our heads together
to come up with another dose
of that medicine that makes our hearts healthy.
Together we try to keep our eyes open
to notice the poor among us,
whether they beg at our door
or huddle in refugee camps on the other side of the world.
And we reach out.
Thanks be to God!
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006