1. Jesus came down with the Twelve and stood on a stretch of level ground with a great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way”( Lk 6: 17,20-26). Taken from today’s Sunday gospel.
2. Today’s first reading and psalm already give the key to understanding this gospel. It is about the two the ways: way of life and way of death, way of ephemerals and way of eternals, way of blessings and way of woes. Jeremiah and the Psalmist see the man who places his trust in God as blessed while he that places his trust in things and people will never see enduring goodness. These emphasize the demands of the first commandment of the decalogue: “you shall not have any other God before me.” It is a call for total trust in God.
3. In the gospel Jesus teaches the same truth. He presented his teaching in two ways: the four declarations of blessedness and the four declarations of woes. We can look at them as encouragement and admonition, encouragement for those who trust in God and admonition for those who trust in people and things.
4. The poor, the hungry, those who weep and the persecuted for the kingdom were proclaimed blessed. This a way of saying that God identifies with those who are suffering. It does not mean that such situations are desirable but whoever finds himself/herself in such situations will be constantly looking forward for help. If such person trusts in God he will consistently be repeating with the psalmist: “I look up to the mountain, from where shall come my help, my help will come from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Jesus is therefore declaring blessed all those who when in difficulties prefer to count on God, respecting his commandments while choosing from the available solutions before them. Such people would prefer to continue suffering rather than worship a false God or accept solutions that go against their faith. Today such people are not many. People talk of Isa uchu, ogwu awale etc as solution to poverty. Such people should know that they have put their trust in things but they still pretend to be children of God.
5. The rich, those who are full, who laugh and are praised by sycophants are admonished by Jesus. He tells them that their joy will not last. He declared woe on them. This second part of the gospel cannot be understood in isolation with the first part. In the light of the four ‘blessed’ we apprehend that the woes apply to those who instead of placing their trust in God prefer to place them on material things. Those who in their search for riches, food, happiness and honour put God and his commandments aside. Jesus does not mean to condemn those who are happy. No he came to make us happy. He was rich but became poor in order to make us rich. The message of the text is that God and his commandments should guide our choices. The means through which we acquire wealth, happiness and honour should in no way enthrone things or persons in place of God.
6. Are we not all poor, hungry, worried or persecuted in one way or the other? Are we not all thirsting and longing for enduring happiness? Surely we are. The truth is that as long as we remain on earth we can never be free of problems. Always strive to acquire things that will make life more meaningful and joyful for you without allowing your faith in God to dim in its radiance. There are ways that seem right to a person because of instant gratification but at the end of it is death. Allow the light of faith to enlighten your decisions whenever the opportunity for easy life and profit brandishes itself before you. ©Vita, 13/02/21