Going Deeper 2/15/2019

The Gospel reading for Epiphany 6...
Luke 6:17-26   [Jesus] came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.  They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.  And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.   Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.  Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.   But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.  Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets."

This text has been called "The Sermon on the Plain" as it seems to parallel the first part of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mountain" in Matthew 5.  The second part of this text echoes the Beatitudes.

The first part of our reading points to the growing popularity of Jesus.  People were coming from everywhere, even the Gentile regions of Tyre and Sidon.  Please note that they came both to "hear him and to be healed."  But you have to wonder if they liked all that they heard.  Certainly, those who were poor or hungry or sorrowful loved to hear of their blessedness, but those who were rich or full or laughing would not have appreciated the news of their demise.

Jesus came to (re)establish the upside-down Kingdom of God.  An important question which must be asked is whether or not contemporary Christians and the contemporary church have sought to retain this perspective of Jesus, where the last are first and the greatest are servants, and where generosity is to be sought over gain.  We must even ponder whether or not we have reinterpreted how Jesus defined what it means to be blessed.

These are challenging questions.  What must be kept in mind is that Jesus' way of life and of living leads to the most meaningful and truly joyful life possible, while the way of the world proves to be empty and meaningless.  Food for thought!

With You in Him,