In 2006, I was standing before the New York Stock Exchange in the Wall Street of Manhattan. I was overwhelmed by the crowd and the fact that all the money in the world came to this place that was the center of Capitalism. I realized that I once wanted to be a successful business man whose ultimate destination would be there, and yet I took a different path that was opposite to money and success. My way did not seem to go along with the Wall Street’s. It was completely different two ways.
The readings today all talks about two different ways of life—the man who trusts in human beings, whose heart turns away from the Lord. The other man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. And the Gospel shows a rich man and Lazarus; their ways of life are completely different and their life after death are totally changed. These two ways of life result from life choices, which is the main theme of the 150 psalms. The first psalm in the responsorial psalm compares two different lives of the just and the wicked like a tree planted near running water and yield its fruit, and chaff which the wind drives away. It seems obvious what we need to choose and in whom we trust.
However, it is not so clear like right and wrong, black and white. At the dawn the day after I saw the New York Stock Exchange, I was walking with a man called Lucky Charlie at St. Joseph House, the Mother House of the Catholic Worker Movement begun by Dorothy Day. I came to stay there for a month and Lucky Charlie was a resident who used to be an alcoholic and he had been sober more than seven years. He asked me to join the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the Wall Street. The AA meeting started at 5am and Lucky Charlie introduced me to the comers who used to be alcoholics and lost everything at some points because of drinking and strived to begin new lives by attending the meeting everyday.
I was surprised by who the comers were—not only homeless but also bankers, stock brokers, lawyers, restaurant owners, professors and even polices. They were the workers and masters of the Wall Street and attended the AA meeting before they went to work. I realized on the way home that I saw the two faces of the Wall Street. The true face of humanity might be more real to have both sides, so the two ways of life were not just parallel but interwoven. The opposite is not someone living on the other side but living with us and among us. The understanding calls us to have compassion for the other and be careful not to see the other as the enemy. I see both in me—a man who trusts in the Lord and turns away from the Lord, and who is rich in material and poor in spirituality. Therefore we all need God’s mercy, discerning which way we take in every moments. God’s mercy is only trustworthy not me.