6th Sunday of Ordinary Time — Cycle C –2019
FIRST READING 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.
SECOND READING 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 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.”
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
As consumers, we think about buying more or better or new. If one has the means, one can buy his or her way into a state of satisfaction, even happiness (although short lived). Our consumption patterns can redress our deficits and doubts about our self-esteem and public image: Am I physically attractive? Do people look up to me and respect me? Do people perceive me as strong and confident? We rely on the material things of the world as if that is all that there is to retain. Will the Lord condemn people who have money and food? Are those people who laugh and those about whom we speak well condemned, too? Conversely, we hear about the blessings for all who are poor, all who do not have food, those who mourn and those who are disparaged for the sake of the name of Jesus. The pressing question is: where (and in Whom) do we place our trust?
The Prophet Jeremiah believes that anyone who trusts in human beings, meaning anyone who trusts in flesh (in human power, not divine) and who turns his heart away from God, damages his soul. Internally, this denial of God’s supremacy replaced by the notion that man is creator of unlimited goods forms an unfruitful and vain outcome within people.
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! Our Lord aims precisely at the inner attitude of putting things and people before God that all of us have within us.
God is All-knowing, All-loving, and All-powerful as well as our most loving Creator and Father. Therefore, it is most fitting to put our complete trust in him. No other person or thing deserves the trust that we place in God. Paul cries out to the wayward Corinthians: If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. Christ is not the means for us to get what we want. Christians desire Christ, and Christ will provide.
Cutting against the age old common pursuit of more rather than less, the Apostle Luke warns that those who enjoy an excess in earthly pleasures may experience a temporary or fleeting joy only to ultimately find life empty and without meaning. The temptation–and it is a temptation for all of–is to get what we need and forget about others. This is an inner attitude that is against the Gospel. There is a tendency to think about self-preservation rather than self-sacrifice. Quite often, it is the generosity of the poor that shames the rich. Recall the story of the widow with her two mites.
It is when we begin to hope for eternal life that we can embrace the idea of giving to others and helping others. It is in hope that we can fast so that others might have food. It is in faith that we can cry when we see the misery of our sisters and brothers and subsequently, hopefully with immediacy, find the compassion and mercy to help them.
May we trust in God, not His creation, to lead us all into His kingdom and to keep us on His path.