Blessed Are You… Or Woe To You…
The Christian who has been baptized has received a new life from God and is a new person, re-created in Christ. What we are now we have received. From now on we must live not in our merely human world of thought and action, but in the new world of Christ. This is not easy to do. This new life in Christ is to be rebuilt constantly. It is a task that never ends.
Luke is the only evangelist coming from paganism – a world of slavery, fear and oppression, and of moral license. He is so struck by the fact that Christ had a place for the poor and for marginal people, for whom nobody cared in his milieu, that this concern of Christ is one of the major emphases in his gospel, particularly in its social aspects. For example, he says, not like Matthew, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” but “Blessed are you, the poor. Woe to you, the rich….”
1 Reading: Colossians 3:1-11
Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way. But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 145:2-3, 10-11, 12-13ab
R. (9) The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable. R.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might. R.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations. R.
Alleluia: Luke 6:23ab
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice and leap for joy!
Your reward will be great in heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Luke 6:20-26
Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus 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. But 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.”
Comfort in adversity! The Beatitudes in Luke speak to people who find themselves in adverse situations in life: the poor, the hungry, the grieving, the excluded, the demeaned. Situations in this life are not definitive; the future offers the opposite of these deprivations. Therefore, take courage and continue to walk in the way of the Lord.
Paul speaks in today’s reading of the old and new way of living. There is the way of “earthly” immorality. By our baptism we have been raised with Christ, and thus our thoughts should be centered on the things that are above, not the things of earth. Therefore impurity, passion, greed, obscenities, and anger are to be put to death. They are mere relics of the past. We have taken off the image of the old creature and put on the image of the Creator. Old distinctions now fade: race, nationality, social status. Now we are formed in the likeness of Christ who is all and in all.
It is quite possible for people to live on a small income with scarcely enough to feed and clothe a family and, at the same time, live a life in harmony with God’s will. They do not live with their hearts attached to this world, and their values are very much in place. They know what it is to suffer, but their peace no one can take from them. The Santal—tribal peoples of northern India— are certainly poor and needy. They live in their single-room mud houses, and yet their joy and hospitality are invariably noted. They live at peace, cultivate a piece of land, and love their Christian faith. They are the privileged ones of the gospel.
Blessed are you… What God wants is our happiness. He leaves us free: we are the ones to make the choice what we are going to do with our lives. May God give you the right insight and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!