Time to Speak Out
Today I talk about the Gospel and highlight the profound
message of living a discipleship life so as to enter the
kingdom of God. To begin, I invite you to recall how in
last week's Gospel Jesus asked Simon Peter to “put out
into the deep” for a catch. Jesus wants each one of us
to enter more deeply into living out the kingdom of God.
Some remain in the shallower regions.
The Gospel today might remind us of Matthew’s story
frequently referred to as the Sermon on the Mount.
Unlike Matthew’s version, however, Luke tells us that
Jesus preached the beatitudes on the plain. Maybe this
is Luke’s way of saying that this message is meant for
everyone, not just those who can climb to the “top.”
In fact, Luke notes that there were disciples, the twelve
apostles, and a large crowd of diverse people who had
come from Jerusalem, Judea, Tyre, and Sidon. Also, Luke
tells the story with Jesus speaking directly to the people
which differs from Matthew’s version where Jesus speaks
of “they.” So, today’s message is also for you and me.
In this message, Jesus begins explaining to us the radical
difference between the Kingdom of God and the world
as we know it. Following a method commonly used by the
prophets, Jesus presents blessings and woes. He first
singles out four situations in life that he claims brings
blessings. The blessed are those who are poor, hungry,
weeping, or persecuted, while the woeful are the rich,
the satisfied, the joyful and the respected.
There is a temptation to distance ourselves from the poor,
the hungry, the sorrowing and the persecuted because
the disparity between what we have and what they lack
makes us uncomfortable. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus points
out that such people are always in our midst and we must
seek ways to help them. No society or country is so far
away that our kindness and generosity cannot reach.
I met someone this week who is organizing a group of
confirmation candidates to go to Guatemala to work in
an orphanage. These confirmation candidates will
complete their service hours outside their own society and
comfort zone. Could you do that? On the other hand,
here in Glenview, our friends and neighbors can and do
suffer personal or economic setbacks. Are you ready to
help when they do? St. Teresa of Calcutta reminded us,
“Not everyone can do great things, but all of us can do
small things with great love.”
Jesus’ point is that if we’re going to be God’s children,
we must be adequately instructed as to what God
desires from each one of us. Our value system must not
be dictated by the world around us but rather by God’s
values of a hunger and a thirst for love, truth, and justice.
To be a part of God’s Kingdom means that we must have
a God-centered worldview. God has different priorities
and different purposes from those of this world. We all
must be taught what God desires from His people and
then begin the hard work of conforming and submitting
our lives to His sovereign rule. To enter fully into God’s
Kingdom, we have to recognize that wealth and influence
are only blessings when we let go and use them to help
Later in Luke’s Gospel, we’ll hear Jesus’ story of the ruler,
how rich he was and how proud that he kept all the Ten
Commandments, and yet how sad he became when he
learned that in order to inherit eternal life he would have
to let go and share what he had. We will also hear the
story of Lazarus who died and went to the bosom of
Abraham and how, at the same time a rich man also died
and went to Gehenna, not for being rich but for failing to
share his riches to help another.
And so today, Jesus calls you and me to “put out into the
deep” of the inside of our hearts. Helping the poor,
contributing to the food pantry, giving alms, comforting
the sorrowful, and demanding justice for the persecuted
all represent important ways we can do small things with
great love. And on a spiritual level, Jesus calls us to
hunger for the word of God. He invites us to thirst for the
sacraments and for a deeper relationship with him
Perhaps the heart of Jesus’s message is the last beatitude
“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.” Prophetically, Jesus
prepares those present then and us today as well for
a life-long commitment to him. The One whose death
was seen as a curse turned out to be a blessing for us.
The real blessing comes when we commit to him at the
expense of being insulted, scorned, marginalized or even
killed. Are you ready to commit to the Son of Man?
God bless you all.
With you a Christian, for you a priest.