Homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Besides the pandemic, blockades, and the unpredictability of what Russia will do, the topic of conversation these days is the rising prices of… everything! Groceries, rent, houses, and of course GAS! You will see in the bulletin an appeal to help cover our own growing parish expenses. Everything seems to be going up but our income. For most, there never seems to have enough time, enough money or enough energy. We live in a culture of NOW. And this culture causes us too much stress!
In the Gospel today Jesus address his followers along with a larger crowd regarding the Beatitudes. He tries to point out how we are all called to trust in God regardless where we are in life… as Christians, we live in hope. Jesus goes on to speak about the “woes” or “distractions” which draw us away from God. Last Sunday, Isaiah, Paul and Peter thought that they unworthy to do God’s work. In this Gospel, which follows on the heals of last weeks, those who thought they were unworthy discover that Jesus comes to them. It is through the poor, the hungry, those who are mourning and those who are hated that Jesus will work, making known God’s love.
In the time of Jesus is was presumed that the poor, the hungry and those who were hated were not blessed by God. At the same time, it was believed that those who were wealthy and powerful were truly the ones who had been blessed by God. Jesus says: oh no, that’s not how it is. Jesus tells us that God’s blessings are not conditioned by economics or social status but rather are free gift of God’s love for us. I find it interesting that those things which Jesus calls “blessed” are the very things that we try to avoid: poverty, hunger, tears and hatred. Yet it is with these that we find blessings. This is radical!
And the only real condition for those who are experiencing these “blessings” so to speak is spelled out in the First Reading from Jeremiah: “trust in the Lord.” The “woes” that Jesus speaks of are the consequences of those who replace God with riches, food, laughter and glamour, that is, as Jeremiah puts it, those who turn “their hearts away from the Lord”. Each one of us is blessed; we may have all kinds of wealth and money but still suffer from the poverty: the poverty of loneliness, unwelcome, or we may suffer from the poverty of addiction.
It is the same with those who are hungry, weeping and hated: these, too, come in many forms: those who hunger for acceptance or appreciation; those who weep for peace in a family or a spoiled friendship; and those who are hated because of a leadership roles: the ones who makes the necessary decisions for the greater good. It is in all of these that Jesus is the present to us.
Did you notice that in the Gospel that, “Jesus came down and stood on level ground with a great crowd of his disciples…”? This tells us that regardless of our poverty, hunger, our hurting or in being hated, we are all on equal ground in the sight of Jesus and that God will continue to bring about love through all of us. In baptism we are called to share in the ministry of Jesus living out the Word of God in our lives, regardless to our blessings or challenges in life.
In the messiness and chaos of fast pace life, Jesus reminds us, “Blessed… are you…” What are the blessings in our joys, happiness and peacefulness in our lives? A more challenging question is, “What are the blessings in our brokenness, poverty, our hunger, our tears?