6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke's version of the Beatitudes differs from Matthew's signficantly.

Firstly, while Matthew says: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" while Luke has the much balder statment: "Blessed are the poor".  Luke does not leave room for spiritualising in what has to be the magna carta for Christians.  Why are the poor blessed?

Certainly, after my experience in Ecuador I can see nothing about poverty.  And, no matter how much we might like to romanticise them, there is nothing particularly beautiful about the poor.  I remember an incident when a lorry crashed in the village in which I was living and practically everybody in the village was busy harvesting the lard from the lorry as the driver was dying in the cab of the lorry.

No, there is nothing especially beautiful or attractive about the poor.  In fact, poverty, extreme poverty, is a dehumanising and demeaning state to live it.  It pushes the individual to prioritise their own needs.

Blessed are the poor must be understood in terms of a broader view, in my opinion.  I think what Luke is pointing to is that those who are poor are also neglected and unprotected by those in charge.  Their only hope is God.  Because poverty polarises things so much, those who have their only hope in God often do so in a very definite and committed way.

To trust in God, and by this I mean not to trust in our own forces; our rainy-day fund, the people we are connected with, our education; to have nobody to trust in other than God is called Blessed by Luke.  He sees that God is the only one who will not change.  God is not fickle.  To trust in God is to have a bedrock that is steady and unchanging.

Very often, even though we might feel we trust in God, we are actually trying to be God.  We want to be in control.  Even when we listen to the Word of God we very often take from it what we are willing to hear.  Are we sincerely open to be challenged when we go to church???

Another very interesting difference between Luke's version of the Beatitudes and that of Matthew is his inclusion of what are sometimes called "The Woes".

These really highlight the blindness of those who feel that they are justified - remember what I just said about "trying to be God"?  Luke makes it very clear that these people are more than ill-advised, they are in danger.  The danger that they (we?) run is that of totally missing the point and the opportunity of being in relationship with God in an open and opening way.

Today's Gospel passage presents us with what could be called the constitution for Christians.  Are we in danger of only hearing the parts of it that we like?


Article posted on 13th of February 2010