Bet your bottom dollar

    February 29, 2024

    I recently attended the musical Annie. Though I was familiar with the title, I did not know the plot of the 1977 musical based on the 1924 comic strip Little Orphan Annie. Some of the characters of Annie are like some clients and benefactors we encounter in our Catholic Charities and other church ministries. They also resonate with characters from today’s Gospel.

    The Gospel’s Lazarus, like Annie and the other kids in the orphanage, lived in poverty. Lazarus was so malnourished that he would gladly eat scraps from the rich man’s table; Annie and the other children were restricted to mush and cold mush in the orphanage. And the rich man in the Gospel is comparable to the billionaire businessperson in Annie, Mr. Warbucks. Warbucks was used to champagne and caviar and had a swimming pool in his mansion. He walked over people to attain his riches as a manufacturing giant.

    But the musical is full of hopefulness. Whether it is Annie singing “Tomorrow” or the scenes of the Franklin Roosevelt administration hatching the New Deal to bring hope and comfort for millions of depressed Americans, we are privileged to help bring hope to the orphans, migrants, prisoners, and unsheltered and malnourished people we meet.

    But Annie and today’s Gospel contain one major difference; because of meeting Annie, Warbucks resolves to personally adopt the goals of the New Deal. As a high-powered corporate magnate, he will put his wealth to work to help alleviate poverty experienced by so many children. But the rich man in the Gospel refused to reform his life and spent eternity in torment.

    When we feel overwhelmed by the material challenges of our clients, Annie’s song “Tomorrow” may be just the jolt we need, “The sun’ll come out/Tomorrow/Bet your bottom dollar/That tomorrow there’ll be sun.”

    Steve is a member of St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere, Wisc. He is a trained spiritual director, blogger and archivist for the Diocese of Green Bay. He enjoys volunteering at St. John’s Ministries and is a Master Gardener. He is grateful to remain connected to the Catholic Charities network through the Lenten and Advent Reflection Series.

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