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Blessed Are They
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 6:17, 20-26
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, teach me to seek your wisdom. Help me to trust that whatever comes my way, you are here with me and always want what is best for me. May I trust in your love and blessings when the way is difficult. Make me aware of my deep need for you.
- Blessed or Cursed?: Let’s be honest: taken from a worldly or human perspective, Jesus’ words seem preposterous. To be poor, to be hungry, to be weeping in sorrow, to be hated, excluded, insulted, and denounced as evil hardly seems like a blessing! In fact, when we experience any of this, we are more likely to feel cursed, abandoned, and forgotten by God. Few of us are spiritually evolved enough to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In fact, our reaction is quite often the opposite—we beg God to change things around until they are more to our liking!
- Spiritual versus Physical: Jesus’ words sound quite different when we consider that he speaks of spiritual (rather than physical) states of being. “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit” (Matthew 6:3) is what we find in Matthew’s parallel account of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ words suddenly make so much more sense. We are blessed when we are poor in spirit, when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, when we weep in sorrow at our own sin and need for salvation. And indeed, it does make sense that we will sometimes be hated, excluded, and denounced when we make the tough choices in order to follow Jesus instead of the world. Fortunately, Jesus is here to strengthen and console us.
- Woe to You: Those who are “rich” and “filled,” in contrast, do not see their deep need for a savior. Confident in their own superiority, they dismiss their own sin, rationalizing whatever behavior brings them pleasure. Replete with satisfaction in the things of this world, they ignore thoughts of eternity. Since we know that this life, however beautiful and precious, is not the endgame, we stay focused on that time when “every tear will be wiped away” (Revelation 21:4). “Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal” (St. Thomas More).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, deepen my awareness of my own spiritual poverty. Fill me with hunger for your salvation, and make me truly sorrowful for my sins. Whatever life throws my way, teach me to be grateful in all circumstances, trusting in your perfect plan for my salvation.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will read Matthew’s account of the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) and reflect deeply on their meaning in my life.
For Further Reflection: The Beatitudes by Allan Ross.
Cathy Stamper lives with her husband Mike in Maryland. They have been partners in marriage, business, and parenthood for over thirty-one years. They are grateful for their five young adult children: Nick, Brian, Greg, Kevin, and Cate, and for their large extended circle of family and friends. Cathy is a lay member of Regnum Christi in Annapolis, Maryland.