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6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 17:5-8
Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6 (40:5a)
1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26
February 17, 2019

In today’s gospel we hear Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. They may sound familiar but not quite what we are used to hearing. That is because, like many passages in the gospels, it is told in multiple gospels. In the case of the Beatitudes, Matthew’s version found in the first twelve verses of chapter five of Matthew’s Gospel are the commonly used version of the Beatitudes. (This is the version I used in my recent presentation, Are They Rules or a Way of Life?).

Matthew’s Beatitudes include, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.” are two examples of the eight Beatitudes listed in Matthew’s Gospel.  Matthew’s Beatitudes are one of the more common gospels used for funerals.  We generally hear them once every three years in the Sunday lectionary cycle.

While Matthew’s version of the Beatitudes is the most common, Luke also provides a list of Beatitudes.  However, Luke does it a little differently.  Matthew lists eight beatitudes, all expressed in the positive (“blessed are they”).  Luke offers four Beatitudes in the positive that parallel Matthew’s but then Luke does something different.  He offers four woe’s (“woe to you”). 

This helps emphasize a recurring theme found through Luke’s Gospel known as “the reversal of fortune.”  God gives the wealth of the Kingdom of God to the poor while those who have made themselves rich may not receive the riches of the Kingdom of God.

Yet, in reality it is not about how rich or poor we are in material wealth that God is looking for.  As Luke sees it, the rich think they are self-made people and have done it on their own.  In their own eyes, they don’t need God’s or anyone else’s help. 

On the other hand, the poor learn to realize that material things are not the most important.  In “hungry”, they turn to God to “be satisfied.” 

Does this make it bad to be “rich”?  Not if the rich realize that they cannot really be satisfied by the earthly riches.  We are not created to be “rich.”  We are created to know God and to be loved by God.  Sometimes, the rich do come to realize that their wealth is not what is most important.  Then, they can use their wealth to help others because they no longer hoard it.

What about the poor?  Do all poor people know the love of God in their lives?  Unfortunately, no.  This can happen because of their lack of basic necessities in life leads them to think that no one cares about them, including God.  This is why it that for the work of evangelization to be successful, it is necessary to first meet them where they are at and provide them with the basic necessities of life.  Once they know that someone cares, that someone loves them, then we can talk to them about God’s Love for them.

I think our first reading can help us get at the just of what Jesus is trying to get at.  Jeremiah is not trying to provide us with a list of beatitudes or woes but he is trying to help us live with the right focus. 

When we focus on material things or in human effort, we should look at the verse where Jeremiah writes, “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

We should be able to trust in human beings and to seek help for one another but not over God.  God is the one who determines what is good or evil.  It is the will of God that we should focus on, not what other humans think. 

Jeremiah reminds us that God is the one where we find “satisfaction” when he writes, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.”  I want to make a special note that it says, “whose hope is the Lord.”  It is the very nature of God that we find hope.

Perhaps one of the most important words in this passage from Jeremiah today is “trusts.”

Sometimes human beings lead us astray into sin.  God will never lead us astray if we truly listen to him.

Human beings may promise to do something for us but may not or they may only be interested in doing something for us as long as it is beneficial for them.  God receives no benefit from us.  God helps us not for his own benefit but for ours because He loves us.

We can trust in God because of his perfect sacrificial love for us.  When we see God’s love in Jesus on the Cross, we know Jesus is the one where we should place our roots.  God gives us living waters through the Holy Spirit.

So, let us heed the words of the psalm, “Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked, nor walks in the way of sinners.”  Instead, let us follow God, mediating “on his law day and night” to find our true joy in God whom we are created to know and is the place where we find true satisfaction.

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