Ministering to a great multitude
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - February 17, 2019 - 12:00am

It is the sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time and today’s gospel reading is not a holiday or Catholic feast, it deals about the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ called the Beatitudes which you can find in your Bibles in Luke 6:17,20-26. It’s about blessings and woes!

“17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon,

20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”

* * *

Luke mentions that our Lord Jesus taught in a level place, but Matthew’s gospel speaks of the Beatitudes as the Sermon on the Mount. With our Lord teaching a huge crowd in Galilee, it is quite possible that he taught the Beatitudes to people on two different occasions. But for us, it shouldn’t matter because his teachings are with us forever!

In Luke’s gospel, there are four blessings. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man…”

If you are poor on earth, then you are blessed in God’s kingdom, if you are hungry now you will no longer experience hunger in paradise, if you are weeping here, you will be laughing in heaven, and finally if people hate you or reject you because of your faith, you will be blessed in heaven.

For those who believe that they are materially poor, then our Lord Jesus gives them hope in the Beatitudes. However, in case you’ve read the Beatitudes and are poor, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to work to help other people because your future is blessed! Now if you are materially poor and can’t even help your neighbors or fellowmen, then you do not belong to the blessed group.

What our Lord is teaching here is that blessed are the “Poor in Spirit” for yours is the kingdom of God. Indeed, God may have blessed so many people with material blessings, yet they are still kind and humble and offer charity to people who ask them for help. They are the kind of people whose faith is so strong they do not decide things for themselves, but allow God to make that decision for them. In short, they are totally dependent on God. They are truly the people who are poor in Spirit.

So the Lord also mentions people who are considered “woe”… 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”

The teaching of our Lord in the Beatitudes should be taught to our children so as to prepare their lives for how they should conduct themselves. Perhaps the most important is to be “Poor in Spirit” because this is what God wants to see us handle our spirituality. Then we are okay in life!

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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