Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are We Doomed?

Are We Doomed?

September 12, 2012
Wednesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

For the world in its present form is passing away.   (I Corinthians 7:31b)

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:  “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.  Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.  Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.  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.  Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!  Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.  For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.  But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.  Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”  (Luke 6:20-26)


Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love like You
Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love.
(from Open My Eyes, Jesse Manibusan)


As I read today’s Gospel, the Good News started to sound like bad news.  By Northern Virginia standards, I’m not wealthy by any means, but compared to hundreds of millions throughout the world, I’m rich.  I don’t have to worry about a roof over my head, clothes to wear or food to eat.  Like most other people I know, I have my share of sorrows, but overall life is good, I’m happy, and I laugh sometimes.  And I definitely prefer people to like me than otherwise.  So, what’s Jesus saying here?  I’m doomed?

I really struggled with this Scripture passage.  Such seemingly simple statements, yet so perplexing – blessed are the poor, the hungry, the weeping and those persecuted for their faith and the contrasting woes to the rich, those with full stomachs, the laughing, and those held in high esteem.  We know that God loves each of us with an overwhelming love.  The Lord doesn’t love the poor any more than he loves those of us who have what we need.  There’s nothing inherently virtuous about poverty and suffering or inherently evil about having what we need.  Maybe it seems like God loves those at the margins of society more, because God is always there filling in the gaps created by our refusal to share what we have, or by our blindness to the needs of our brothers and sisters, or, worse, by our lack of caring.

No, I don’t think God’s message is that I’m necessarily doomed.  But I think God is reminding all of us that we promised to follow his Son, and Jesus is generally found with the poor, the sinners and the downtrodden.  Following in His footsteps leads us to the poor and outcast, not to the glitzy, well-heeled or famous.     Jesus’ way leads us to the Cross, the only path to resurrection and eternal life.  We may need to reverse course.


When we’ve got what we need to be comfortable, or perhaps much more than that, how easy it is to forget the God who chooses to hang out with the wretched and despised of the world, the God who asks us to be there with him ministering to the needs of the forgotten.  How easy to settle in with all we possess as though this world is our permanent home.  Paul reminds us in our first reading not to get too comfortable here, though, for this is not our ultimate destination.

In the end, it all comes down to love.  God asks us to love Him above all things and to love what He loves, all of his children.  Have you ever turned a blind eye to someone in need?  Ask God for forgiveness.  What one thing could you share with someone poor, hungry, sorrowing, or in any way forgotten by society?  Do it today.

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