The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
February 17, 2019 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 6:17, 20-26
In the air these days in the United States is talk about potential candidates for the next presidential election. All candidates ask themselves how they might best address the American People. What can they say to gain the most votes? They want a popular message, one that will stir the hearts and minds of voters, especially those who vote more for the candidate than for a political party. The so-called “independents.”
Today’s gospel summarizes the “campaign” message of Jesus. He lists a series of positives that he will help create in our world. Read in that light, how would you judge the possibilities of his success?
He begins by affirming three planks in his platform: (1) Further lack of resources for the poor, (2) continued hunger for those not having enough to eat, and (3) more sadness for those who are mourning the difficulties of their lives.
Wait a second, you say. That kind of political platform will get no votes. He’d better change his approach if he wants to be popular. But there’s the catch: Jesus is not after popularity. He’s about offering to his listeners, then and now, directions on how you, your family and friends, really anyone, can enter and live more fully in God’s kingdom.
While lengthy books have been written on the deeper meaning of the Beatitudes, here I’ll mention a few ways to unlock their secrets. Let’s begin with how Jesus understands the “poor.” He’s not talking about finances, but rather about the spirit of dependency. If you feel you have all you need and that you have no need of the help from others, then you are less likely to feel any need for God. You have all you want. Jesus is saying to be careful about what we call independence or “rugged individualism.” You need to leave room for God in your life. Dependence on God and others can be a sign of strength, not weakness.
Something similar can be said about hunger. If there is no hunger in you for loving and helping others, for learning more to dispel your ignorance or no desire for a better life, then you will miss out on the blessings in the life Jesus offers.
Finally, what about weeping? If you fail to feel the pain of others, if you ignore the real evil in the world or the losses that happen each day, then you are out of touch with reality. The Beatitudes are an action plan to finding spiritual richness in a too-satisfied world.
©David M. Thomas, PhD