6th Sunday of Ordinary Time — Cycle C –2010 Jeremiah 17:5-8
Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.
1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Brothers and sisters: If Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
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.”
These are strong readings this week and we have to listen to them attentively. At first hearing, it can sound like the Lord will condemn all those who have money, those who have food, all who laugh and those about whom we speak well. On the other side we hear blessings for all who are poor, all who do not have food, those who mourn and those who are spoken badly about (but only for the sake of the name of Jesus). This is from the Gospel of Saint Luke.
The Prophet Jeremiah is not much better in the first reading today. His preaching can sound even a bit softer than today’s Gospel. For him, anyone who trusts in human beings, anyone who trusts in flesh (in human power, not divine) and who turns his heart away from God. These actions described by Jeremiah are all internal actions: trusting humans and human power and turning one’s heart away from the Lord.
So do we have to believe that anyone who has more than sufficient money or even just enough money will not enter the kingdom? Do we have to believe that anyone who has sufficient food cannot enter the kingdom? Do we have to believe that all those who laugh are not going to enter the Kingdom? Probably not! What our Lord is getting at is the inner attitudes that all of us have within us.
The temptation—and it is a temptation for all of us—is to get what we need and forget about others. This seems to be why so very often the poor are very generous and those who have enough are uneasy to give what they have lest they end up without enough. This is an inner attitude that is against the Gospel. There is a tendency to think about me having enough food before thinking about those who don’t. Quite often, those who don’t have enough food are more willing to share the little they have than those who have enough but are worried that they won’t.
Laughter? This passage inspired lots of writers and even philosophers to think that laughing is not good. Instead it is an inner attitude that only laughs and pays no attention to the mourning that is all around us. Laughter is good for body and soul, but never at the expense of forgetting entirely those who suffer and mourn. Just as some cities have built walls to hide the poor neighborhoods, so laughter can be used to hide from reality.
Christ is truly risen! Saint Paul tells us this so very strongly. If Christ has been raised so will we be raised. If we hope only for this life, we are to be pitied. It is when we begin to hope for eternal life and we can accept giving to others and helping others. It is in hope that we can fast so that others might have food. It is faith that we can cry when we see the misery of our sisters and brothers and finally find the compassion and mercy to help them.
May God lead us all into His kingdom and keep us on His path.