Archbishop Lori’s Homily: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time; Filipino Festival

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Filipino Festival – St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Pedro Calungsod
September 25, 2022

Looking the Other Way

In the Gospel just proclaimed, Jesus told a story about a rich man and a poor man, a poor man named Lazarus. Lazarus was poor and hungry and “covered with sores”. As we listened to Jesus describe Lazarus, our hearts stir with pity for him. Lazarus lay at the doorstep of a rich man who lived in a beautiful home, dined sumptuously, and dressed extravagantly. But the rich man did not take notice of the poor man on his doorstep. It’s not that he couldn’t see him. No, he chose to look the other way. The wealthy man chose to be indifferent to the plight of the poor man and that earned him nothing less than everlasting damnation.

Jesus’ sobering parable is backed up by today’s first reading from the prophet Amos. In no uncertain terms, Amos condemned the complacent. They recline on couches of ivory, he complained; they dine on the finest of fare, delight in the dulcet sounds of the harp, imbibe the choicest wines, and anoint themselves with the most fragrant of oils. All the while, they are looking the other way. They are looking away from the God, the source of every blessing. They are looking away from their kinsmen who are in need.

Standing back from these two Scripture passages, we may say to ourselves: “How could the rich man be so indifferent to the poor man on his doorstep?” “How could those inhabitants of Judah live so well while so many of their neighbors went without?” Their sin? They looked the other way.

Truth to tell, we can do the same thing. Walking down a street, a needy person approaches us. We can avert our eyes, pick up our pace, and move along. In avoiding them, we are avoiding Jesus. In a word, we can “look the other way”. We can also look the other way when we encounter people who are spiritually impoverished – those who have cut themselves off from the Lord and from the Faith, those who are adrift in their personal lives and their spiritual lives. These might be family members, relatives, and co-workers. We may say to ourselves, “That’s none of my business”, or “I’m glad that I’m keep up with my faith” – and simply go on with life. In a word, we have “looked the other way”.

Saints Who Did Not ‘Look the Other Way’

Today we celebrate saints who did not ‘look the other way’ – San Lorenzo Ruiz and his companion martyrs, and Pedro Calungsod – saints who are near and dear to Filipino people everywhere. When the Lord gazed with love into their souls, they returned the Lord’s glace … the eyes of their soul met the eyes of mercy, the eyes of Jesus. It changed their lives, and it changed the course of history.

Born in Manila in 1594, San Lorenzo was steeped in the Catholic faith. His mother taught him the Catholic faith; he was an altar server at his parish. He joined the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary sponsored by the Dominican priests and brothers who staffed his parish. He and his wife Rosario had two sons and a daughter. A skilled calligrapher, Lorenzo found steady employment at his parish church. By the standards of the day, he and his family led a comfortable and peaceful life. Had his life just rolled on the way it was, we would never know of him.

But the Lord had other plans. The Lord allowed Lorenzo to undergo a great crisis that upended his whole life. Lorenzo was falsely accused of murder and was forced to seek asylum aboard a ship where he met three Dominican priests, a Japanese priest, and a layman who was leper. They were on the way to the missions in Okinawa and faced an uncertain future. Lorenzo Ruiz might well have wondered which fate was worse: standing trial at home or dying in some far-flung place. It was then that the Lord looked into his soul and called him to a radically different life. Lorenzo returned the Lord’s loving gaze and in the light of that gaze was able to envision multitudes who did not know Jesus Christ and who had never heard the Gospel. With sixteen companions, he labored tirelessly to spread the Gospel.

The moment came when Lorenzo and his companions were sent to Nagasaki where they faced trial by torture and indeed, certain death. Lorenzo and his companions could have looked the other way; they could have averted their gaze from Christ crucified but instead kept his eyes fixed on Jesus as he confessed his Christian faith. He said: “Had I a thousand lives, I would gladly offer them for him; never will I apostatize.” The whole of his life was directed towards Jesus and his mission.

The same is true of San Pedro Calungsod. We know little about his early life except that he hails from the 17th century and was formed in the faith at a Jesuit boarding school. A wonderfully talented young man, he became a lay catechist and was chosen to go on mission to Guam and the Marianas Islands. There, Pedro and his companions underwent severe privation and they suffered greatly as they made their way through jungles & difficult terrain. Yet, Pedro and his fellow missionaries persevered. Keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus, they sought to spread the Gospel far and wide, and were only too happy to suffer for the sake of his Name. A concatenation of rumors and intrigue led to Pedro’s martyrdom. He went to his death clear-eyed in his faith and with the eyes of his heart set on those whom he had converted to the faith. Neither he nor Lorenzo ever looked away.

Today’s reading from St. Paul’s 1st Letter to Timothy describes both saints well: They pursued righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. They competed well for the faith. The laid hold of eternal life amid their suffering. Instead of looking inward so as to avoid the glace of Christ and the needs of the poor, they looked rather to the King of kings and the Lord of lords who dwells in unapproachable light.


As we commemorate these great saints, let us unite as a community of faith in asking for the grace to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who indeed gives light to our eyes. In that light may we see ourselves more clearly and seek God’s mercy. In that light may we also see the needs of those around us – the needs of the poor and the needs of the spiritually impoverished. Strengthened by the Eucharist and purified by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, may we respond like San Lorenzo and San Pedro with great generosity and zeal, such that we will one day dwell in glory with the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

And may God bless us and keep us always in his love!

Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore May 16, 2012.

Prior to his appointment to Baltimore, Archbishop Lori served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., from 2001 to 2012 and as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1995 to 2001.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Lori holds a bachelor's degree from the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., a master's degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

In addition to his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.