Homily for the sixth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 6:17, 20-26


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"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 and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.


"And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: 'Happy are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Happy are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.


" 'But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.' "





Homily:


"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 and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases."


Jesus' fame has already spread far and wide: a crowd of people gathers from all over to see and hear this Great Prophet - and even more, to be healed by this incomparable miracle-worker! Now, Jesus does not like crowds, multitudes, and great assemblies. He passionately loves everyone who comes to him, but he does not at all like great crowds like the one that seems to have gathered together that day. And Jesus will try to make his listeners understand this, through his own words, through his own images and comparisons.


"And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: 'Happy are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.' "


Jesus begins his discourse by praising those who are poor! "Happy are you who are poor!" Is this possible? If Jesus said so, then there is no doubt about it: he who is poor can be happy. But Jesus did not expressly say that he who is poor is necessarily happy. What the Lord wanted to say is that he or she who is poor can be happy insofar as his or her faith and love of God leads him or her to consider all the things of the earth to be nothing compared to the goods of Heaven: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God!"


The Lord Jesus is not recommending real and absolute poverty here: God does not want the men and women he has created in his Love to lack anything they need in order to live. What Jesus asks of each Christian is that he be content with his lot in life. If someone has few possessions, he should not wish for more; if someone else has much, this person should not be attached to the realities of this world, but rather to those of Heaven. In any case, each person should do what he can to use worldly goods with moderation and without excess, and he should share with those who are in need.


"Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied."


Although one can find a certain spiritual joy in corporeal penance, it is difficult to be truly happy when one's belly is empty. In fact, the Lord does not want men, women, and children to die of hunger, something which unfortunately happens each day in many places around the world... But there is another hunger, one that true and sincere hearts feel for days and years at a time: hunger for justice! Saint Matthew, in his Gospel, quotes more completely the words of the Lord, saying: "Happy those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied!" (Mt. 5:6)


"Happy are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Happy are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets."


Jesus praises the poor in spirit, those who hunger for justice, those who weep, because they feel alone, without the wealth that would console them in this vale of tears, without the food that would make up for the injustice they have suffered... Assuredly, Jesus does not declare to be happy he to whom all good things flow - riches as well as friends and flatterers - but rather he who, through love of God and men, bears all these insults with faith, constancy and generosity. "Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven!"


Poverty, unjust treatment, jeers and mockery, these are what make man happy before God: these are what make him truly blessed! This is the Way, which has now been shown to us by the Divine Master! This is it, and there is no other. It is found at Golgotha, on the Cross of Christ. This is the Way that makes us blessed, and not only in Heaven after death. No, this Way makes us blessed while we are still here on earth, for, at the foot of the Cross, we find Mary, standing, as if she is already resurrected: she is present and acts on behalf of all men and women in order to help them, through the gift of the almighty grace of God!


"But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets."


Jesus continuous to teach his disciples and, in his discourse, the word "happy" is now replaced by the word "woe", "woe", "woe"... There is no other word to describe the terrible reality of someone who does not follow the Way shown to us by the Master... What bitterness in these few words! Is the soul of the Lord not already filled with the repugnance he will feel on the eve of his Passion, in the garden of Gethsemane? Do we not already hear the cry of distress that Jesus shouted out on the cross of Calvary: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mt. 27:46)


We shall soon receive within us Jesus in his sacrament. That will be the best moment for us to ask him to make us truly happy, not as we understand it, according to our petty idea of "happiness", but rather as the Lord wants us to share in that beatitude which is his for all eternity. May today's Eucharist make us already resurrected!



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