“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” (Lk 6:22).
The Beatitudes are contrary to much of what too many of us are tempted by when seeking our satisfaction, security, and fulfillment and that is power, fame, wealth, pleasure, and celebrity. What is more, how many of us who proclaim to be people of faith resist Jesus’ teachings because of our own anxieties, fears, and self centered reasons?
In today’s Gospel account from Luke, Jesus taught his disciples how to attain the kingdom through five blessings and four woes. Jesus’ message is a universal message, an invitation to and for all who have ears to hear and a heart open to receive. Yet, these teachings challenge us to place our trust, not the things of this world, for that which is finite and material are fleeting and passing, but in Jesus. By placing our trust in Jesus, he will lead us to his Father, which will bring us true happiness and fulfillment.
This is an inviting offer, yet when following and putting Jesus’ teachings into practice we will receive opposition. To live in accord with Jesus is to identify with the poor, the hungry, those who mourn, and to speak the truth to power and those in authority, within and without of the Church, even when we risk being hated, excluded, insulted, and denounced as evil. We are also to resist the lure and attachment to the false promise of security believed to be found in material wealth, thinking that we can have all the food, drink, clothes, friends, and joys that money can buy. These are only apparent goods, that if we seek to be fulfilled by, we will be left empty and wanting for more time and again. Pursuing the material and finite to fill our deepest hunger, can also lead us into being ensnared by attachment and addiction.
To be blessed, to be happy, to be fulfilled, is to be unattached to the things of this world, and instead anchored in building a relationship with Jesus. To look seriously at what he taught, to face within ourselves those areas in which we believe and act contrary to his teachings, to be open to God’s work of transformation, to apply his teachings to our lives, to commit to living as his disciple, and to proclaim the Gospel in our day and time, “we will rejoice and leap for joy” (Lk 6:23)! Joy because we can experience the good things that God gives us, but not be ensnared by them, because we are fueled by the love of Jesus, the source of our being and our hope.
For, Jesus was not just an amazing teacher, he is the Son of God. He became one with us so that we can become one with him. The same “power that came forth from him” (Lk 6:19) to heal, to cast out demons, to teach truth, is still active in our lives today. He is the kingdom of Heaven that is at hand and will lead us to the ultimate desire and deepest craving and hunger of our being, to be in communion with God and one another.
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Link for the Mass readings for Wednesday, September 12, 2018: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091218.cfm