17 February 2019 at St. Peter & St. William Churches in Naples, Fl
Jeremiah 17, 5-8 + Psalm 1 + 1 Corinthians 15, 12, 16-20 + Luke 6, 17, 20-26
In Luke’s Gospel, and in this church and every other church where it is proclaimed today, the challenge of faith is unfolded, and there is no hiding from it or playing word games to water it down. These holy scriptures, the very Word of God, are given to us as the plan and program of a life lived in faith. We do not inherit these scriptures to provide or empower us to condemn someone else. We are the only ones who can convict ourselves of living the truth in faith. What God says to us simply and directly today is that we may not do what we want with what we have, because everything we own we hold in trust. Anyone who does not believe that can try to take it all with them when they die. We are stewards in this part of our lives, and we have to get that right in spite of every advertisement and temptation that passes in front of us.
The second part of these verses today are really more important than the first part, because these “Woes” rightly understood make it possible to be “Blessed.” We have to stop thinking that “Blessed” is something you get, because it isn’t. Blessedness is not some Thing, it is some One. To be Blessed is to be like God. So, when we are “Blessed” we have the mind of God or the heart of Christ. That is Blessedness – being like God. In which case, we can say: “Blessed are you who are rich in money, in power, in talent, or time, because you can do so much for the poor and lift them out of oppression. It means using power for peace, wisdom to reconcile, knowledge to open horizons, and compassion to heal, and hope to destroy despair.
Blessed are you full now, who are sleek and well-fed, because you are strong enough to feed the hungry, touch empty stomachs with compassion. But, only if you have the mind of the hungry not taking food for granted, and always uncomfortable when your brother or sister cries in vain for bread, or justice, or love. Only when we experience our own emptiness can be know the hungry.
Blessed are you who laugh now, because you can bring the joy of Christ to others, to those whose days and nights are filled with tears. But only if you laugh at yourself and do not take yourself seriously knowing that the whole world does not revolve around you, your needs, and your fantasies. Only if you take delight in God’s creation, in the sun and shade, the flowers and the birds, the clouds and the sea can you have real and lasting joy to share. It means letting go of yesterday, dead hopes and disappointments that keep you from discovering what tomorrow will bring.
In the end, what all means is the Blessed are the free; free enough to be alive, to be in love, to experience the gift of mercy, and the richness of our faith. And Jesus raised his eyes not to heaven, but to us, his disciples, and he said: “Blessed are you”.