Archive for September, 2007

The Dangers of Complacency

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

  September 29-30, 2007

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Amos 6: 1a, 4-7; 1 Tim 6: 11-16; Luke 16: 19-31

Dc. Larry Brockman

 

 “Woe to the complacent in Orlando”!  That could well be the message to us.  I ask you then, are you complacent?  And if so, what does that mean in your quest to become a member of the Kingdom of God.   

In Amos’ time, the people of Judah were living a life of luxury while their Northern Neighbors suffered a threat of attack.  Indeed, the attack came 20 years later, and was followed by an attack on Judah itself.  But, the people of Judah partied in that time.  They turned a blind eye; they had deaf ears to the impending disaster around them.  They ignored the prophet Amos when they had a chance to act, and they forgot about God.  Life was too good; they didn’t want to be bothered with the uncomfortable truth.  They just wanted to be left alone in peace.  They were complacent.   

In his life, the rich man in the Gospel was complacent, too, wearing purple- the color of royalty, and fine linen- an expensive import of the day; feasting sumptuously, every day= every day- while Lazarus begged for scraps, competing with the dogs every day.  The rich man was incredibly complacent.   

Notice that there are some common themes in the complacency.  First, people were not committing evil deeds- sins- by their actions.  Rather, they were committing a very subtle evil- the sin of omission, by their inaction.  When you really think about it, sins of omission are the ones that cause the most tremendous evils.  Sins of omission caused a minority power, the Nazis, to rise to power in Germany.  In fact, when good people failed to act when there was still a chance, similar situations developed in Cambodia, Uganda, and Bosnia.  And now, it’s happening in Darfur.   

Closer to home, sins of omission caused a dangerous situation in New Orleans.  Prophets were ignored for years about what could happen, and then after Katrina, sins of omission perpetuated the disaster   

Another common thread in complacency is this:  It’s one thing to be ignorant of the fate of others; it’s quite another to be so caught up in ourselves that we ignore it.  You see, both the Israelis and the Rich man knew.  The prophet Amos warned the Israelis, and the Rich man knew Lazurus’ name.  They knew alright, they just chose to ignore problems, even when they were right in front of them.  On the other hand, neither of the readings attacks the concept of being well off either.  So being blessed is not the problem.  No, the problem is that attitude of complacency which  is characterized by ignoring evil, and by inaction I the face of it.     

Now living in this wonderful country, with all of the opportunities we have means that that we are blessed.  When you are blessed, you may have more of a challenge.  Because when you are blessed, it is easier to be complacent, and to be part of a culture that is complacent; to ignore the pain and suffering of those less fortunate, and decide not to take any action.  Because when you are prospering, when you are working hard to stay blessed, when you are able to live your agenda, when you are involved with your family and friends, and enjoying the prosperity you have, it is then that you don’t have the time to get involved.  It is then that situations are passed over and ignored even though you know they are there.   

That begs the question- what can one do to combat an attitude of complacency in today’s prosperous society?   Paul says to Timothy:  “But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, love, patience, and gentleness”.   Pursue these- that’s the answer.  How?  Well, first, why not vow to perform just one deliberate act of selfless service each day for someone else?  You see, if you actively pursue ways to be gentle, kind, loving, and righteous in the events that occur in your daily life, you will become more and more sensitive to the larger injustices of the world and the Spirit will prompt you on how to combat them.  Begin with little things.  Second, be sensitive to the things your heart is telling you to do when you feel complacency coming on. 

Lastly, consider this.  If you found yourself in the Rich Man’s predicament today, and you had a second chance to come back and change your life, what would you do differently?  Whatever that would be, that’s your heart talking to you.