Wednesday, February 7, 2007

February 11, 2007 ~ Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 6: 17, 20-26

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 "Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 "But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. "Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

For Reflection and/or Discussion

These verses always bug me. How about you? Upon first reading, it appears Jesus is telling us we must be miserable in this world to be happy with Him in eternal life. We must be poor, hungry, mourning, and hated and even rejoice in these things. How can anyone do that? And, we certainly cannot be rich, full, laughing, or well thought of, or we won’t get to Heaven. But, I don’t think that is what Jesus is saying here. Do you? He DOES want us to be happy in this life and the next. The world is not evil; God created all things good. Jesus is reminding us, though, that our focus should not be the things of this world. Our focus should always be the things of Heaven.

If we are truly poor (and let’s face it; none of us looking at a computer screen in our own home can be defined as poor), we can seek riches in His Kingdom. If we are truly hungry, we can find satisfaction in the Lord. If we are truly mourning, we can find laughter in life through hope. If we are hated, excluded, reviled, and our name is cast out as evil, we can be blessed by Christ Jesus. It just takes faith. If we are rich and find consolation in our wealth, if we are full and find satisfaction in food, if we laugh and find joy in personal gratification, if we are spoken well of and are prideful in such words, that all means nothing. These gifts of this world are not evil, but if we separate them from the Lord, we actually have nothing.

I think Jesus is begging us to evaluate our lives by these challenging verses and strive to focus on the things of Heaven, not the things of earth. So, here we go…

Am I poor? ~ As I said, if you live in the US, this is highly unlikely. Do I squander money? Do I tithe a full 10% of my income to the Church and other charities? Do I stick to a budget? Do I have ANY credit card debt? Why? Do I shop too much? Do I have too many things: clothes, toys, books, shoes, rooms in my house, etc…? How can I find consolation in the Lord instead of these monetary things? Do I live modestly, so I can use any extra income to bless others?

Do I hunger? ~ “For what do I hunger?” might be a better question. Am I addicted to anything: chocolate, caffeine, food, nicotine, alcohol, shopping, reading, surfing, service, cleaning, sex, etc…? Instead do I hunger for true, just, and beautiful things with as much gusto? Our world is full of lies, injustice, and evil; is that what fills my days? What satisfies me? Do I find my satisfaction in the Lord? How can I find satisfaction in the Lord instead of other things? Do I hunger for Jesus, so that every day He is my first thought on rising and next to me every moment of the day?

Do I weep? ~ Does sin make my heart sad and my stomach twist? When I go to Confession at least once a month, am I truly sorry for my sins and resolved to do better? Do I even go to Confession at least once a month? Do I find new sorrow in each separation from God? Am I sad for the evil in this world? Do I offer sacrifices for the salvation of sinners? How can I find joy in the Lord’s mercy and true contrition for my sins and those of others? Do I pray for repentance and do acts of penance and mortification for myself and others?

Am I hated, excluded, reviled, and cast out as evil “on account of the Son of man?” ~ Do my neighbors know that I am Catholic? Am I fearful of what others may say if I speak of my faith publicly? Do I sacrifice my faith or at least put it on a shelf with certain family members or friends who may think I am a fanatic? Do I avoid confronting unbelievers? Do I blindly follow the majority on social and moral issues? Do I stand up for what is right? How can I stand up for my faith instead of hide it in certain situations? Do I evangelize regularly and make it a point to remind others of Jesus’ saving power?

Jesus wants us to be poor, hungry, mourning, and hated, so that we can love Him more perfectly!

As God pleases; as God wills. ~ Saint Colette