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Ministering to a great multitude

REFLECTIONS TODAY

Published

LUKE 6:17, 20-26

reflectionstodayJesus 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.”

When a person is truly blessed

There are people who seem to have everything. They are intelligent, kind, good-looking, of good family background, and socially well connected. Some families are considered blessed for the priests or religious in their clan. Others can afford to do charitable works because they and their children are financially stable. If some do not have the above-mentioned, they are said to be “cursed” or “unfortunate” (kawawa). As my mother once described struggling relatives of ours, “Kinalimutan yatang basbasan ng Diyos ang pamilyang ’yan.”

Is this type of valuation correct? Who, in fact, is truly blessed or cursed (if we can say that, because I firmly believe God never curses us)?

The Gospel is the shorter version of the Beatitudes from Luke. Unlike Matthew, Luke addresses the beatitudes directly to his hearers (“Blessed are you…”) and not in the third person. This makes the Lucan version more personal and direct. Also, while Matthew speaks of “the poor in spirit,” Luke speaks absolutely of the “poor.” Hence, the Lucan formulation seems to point more to material poverty (which the word “poor” primarily evokes), although he may also have other forms of poverty in mind.

In any case, those who have no security in life, those who have little or no power, will possess the Kingdom in the future. On the other hand, those who already enjoy material blessings in this life or are praised and honored, and persecute those who are poor and disadvantaged now, can only expect the opposite: woes await them.

What is the message of the Beatitudes? Two things addressed to two groups. First, those who are the poor and persecuted now, especially because they are disciples of Jesus, are given hope and encouragement to endure whatever they are suffering because God will surely reward their faithfulness and perseverance. Second, those who are the cause of the sufferings of Christ’s followers (who may also be fellow disciples in Christ) are given a warning to change their lives before it is too late, as they surely will experience what the poor and the persecuted are now undergoing. There will be a reversal of fortune in the life to come.

 SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

 

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