Year C: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Luke 6: 17, 20-26
Today we begin a series of readings from the “Sermon on the Plain - Luke’s equivalent of Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount”.
The Sermons create a vision of a way of living that would be for the upbuilding of a Kingdom in which those on the margins would find a place - a Kingdom founded on justice and integrity.
Today’s extract is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes in which Jesus begins to turn established values on their heads. Unlike Matthew, however, Luke not only deals with the happiness and blessedness - but also the “alas-es” that await those who are self-satisfied.
People had gathered around Jesus to listen to his teaching and clearly expected to find a miracle-worker. He did cure people and liberated them from evil spirits - but from the outset was determined that his disciples should not run away with the idea that the Kingdom was an easy option. The small detail of Jesus fixing his eyes on his disciples tells us a great deal - he is making a point and wants them to be in no doubt of his seriousness.
The point being made to Jesus’ listeners would not have been lost on the communities for whom Luke was writing. They were risking everything in following Jesus - for them it was a truly radical life-choice. Its consequence often was rejection, misunderstanding and unhappiness. Even today, Christians may find the life-giving choice to become a disciple of Jesus brings with it unpleasant consequences.
They - and we - need to hear Jesus’ words assuring his disciples that this is to be expected - but that this is not the end of the story. Yes, there will be difficulties - but this has always happened to those who strive to do good. In the Kingdom, those who are poor, hungry or sorrowful will find their needs more than met. However, those who are rich and satisfied will find that the things they have seen as sources of happiness will turn to dross.
There is a tendency, perhaps, to sentimentalise the Beatitudes - to see them as a hazy ideal for living... In fact, they issue a fundamental challenge - where do we set our own happiness - wholly on earthly things - or on spiritual things - on things that bring short-term contentment - or on those that endure into eternity?
What does it mean for me?
Text © 2006 WellspringWeekly Wellsprings ]