Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jesus’ State of the Union Address

By Colleen O’Sullivan

“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…  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 6:20-22, 24-26)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…”
(Luke 4:18)

Jesus has been up on the mountain selecting the Twelve, whom he designates Apostles.  He comes down to the plain and begins to address the crowd.  We’re told that Jews and non-Jews alike make up the throng of people.  They’re from Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre, and Sidon.  This is truly a sermon for all the world to hear.

Jesus gives a sort of “state of the Union” address, the Union being the Kingdom of God.  Now that God, through his Son, has taken matters in hand, here’s what the Kingdom looks like, Jesus says.  If you’re poor or hungry, weeping or reviled because of your faith, take heart.  You are the blessed of God’s Kingdom.  That must be music to the ears of all the young, would-be immigrants on our southern border, the Christians in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and countless other countries whose lives are threatened because they are believers, to the hungry here in the U.S. and the starving throughout the world.
Here we begin to see why the Nazareth folk didn’t exactly take to Jesus’ preaching.  It turns our most cherished notions upside down.  It makes us uncomfortable.  This is hardly the worldview we grow up with.  From kindergarten on we work to get into good colleges, so we can major in something that pays well, in order to then fill ourselves with all the good things we see in advertisements and mall windows.  And what’s wrong with having a good time, we ask?  Aren’t our self-esteems stroked from the moment we begin to toddle around so that we will feel good about ourselves, enjoy life, and have a good laugh now and then?  Who doesn’t want to have people think highly of us?  Much of what we do is driven by our desire to be popular and have friends.  Compared to many people in the rest of the world listening to Jesus’ words, we have so much.  Yet, we’re seldom satisfied.  We aren’t grateful for what’s been given to us.  We never feel like we have enough.  We’re always looking for more.  Our blindness to all that we have, our lack of compassion for those who are in need, and our overall ingratitude put us on the outs with relation to the Kingdom of God.

Jesus doesn’t mince words.  He is uncompromising in his assertion that this is the way it is in God’s Kingdom.  Everything is turned upside down.

Spend some time today thanking God for the many gifts you have received.  Gratitude leads to compassion, which leads to sharing with others. Here are two opportunities for giving:  If you would like to aid in alleviating the human suffering in Iraq, Catholic Relief Services has joined with Caritas Iraq in offering humanitarian aid. Click on to find out how you can help.  Here at home, SOME (So Others Might Eat) is an organization that feeds the hungry in Washington, DC.  See  to find out how you can help.  

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