BLESSED ARE YOU…
Following the story of Jesus now in the gospel of Luke, we find out that Jesus is now not on His own. After his presentation of his mission in the temple, a few opposition, he now calls his disciples, they are to spread the message of the kingdom by their words and deeds. Immediately prior to the reading, Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and he does that whole night. Prayer is very important to Jesus, which he does so prior to any of his major activity. Then he knights his apostles (sent ones), future missionaries. The same happens in Acts 2, after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they went out to bear witness to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, their master.
Then he comes down the mountain with the apostles, from his close encounter with God, his Father. Comes down the mountain to a level place and there he is in contact with many people. People who are longing to hear the words of Jesus. These people are from all over from Israel and from out. To both Jews and Gentiles. He is not alone, but now with his new missionaries. With his eyes fixed on his disciples he starts the beatitudes. The disciples now have to hear and listen to these words so that they will go out to teach others. He preaches first to his disciples; looks at them with great interest and hope. Fixing his eyes on them, also indicates the seriousness of his preaching to them, so that they will keep it in their heart, the new order that He was going to give them in his first sermon.
The beatitudes are very familiar, but in Luke these are found in a different style: 3 Beatitudes which later on follow with 3 woes (Alas, Alas, Alas). Mathew we have the normal, which we are familiar with, however in Luke the pattern is changed with blessed and followed by woes. In Mathew Jesus goes up the mountain and gives the sermon. Whereas in Luke, Jesus, comes down after praying and appointing his apostles, to a level ground. Jesus comes to a level ground, because he wants to challenge them to rise to the challenges that will lift them up to God. To go out to preach to Gentiles and Jews (Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon); to preach to the poor, common people on the plain. Those at the plain, were common people, sick and wanting to hear and touch him.
In today’s gospel, Luke gives us first the three blessed. Blessed are the POOR, Blessed you who are HUNGRY now, Blessed you who are WEEPING now. He stresses on these in comparison to the three Alas (Woes): Alas for you are RICH, as you have the consolation now; alas for you have PLENTY to eat now; Alas for you are LAUGHING now.
Blessed (happy): the poor, hungry and weep will receive true happiness. For us happiness is measure by our success and what we have. But for Jesus, for those who are rich, satisfaction and laughter; they already have the kingdom. Jesus is concerned of the poor, hunger and weeping, for these have very little to defend the establishment. There is something revolutionary in the teaching of the beatitudes. They are in dissatisfaction they are open to the new order that Jesus brings. The poor have the kingdom of God, the hungry will be satisfied, and weep will laugh. The powerful that direct this establish order, cannot do anything for the new order and so they are condemned. Thus Jesus says; Alas….. This is challenging and he puts this new order. Jesus condemnation is to all those who have everything now and not in the new order. The new order is in control with God.
The poor has four meanings: a) Those without wealth, b) those without wealth and thus without influence and power, so helpless and without influence. C) Thus they were also often oppressed and exploited, d) because of all the above, they were the ones who placed their trust in God. Thus the beatitudes or blessed in this new order, is the need to depend on God and not just on material happiness. Jesus fixes his eyes on the people (us) too. He will speak to us. What does he speak? Does it makes us happy, NOW?
The Crucifix in our bedroom gives us a message too. It helps to understand the Sermon on the Mount, which Jesus Christ fulfills on the mount of Calvary. Jesus who is perfect and led a perfect life, fulfills his mission only through suffering. Jesus was poor, rejected, misunderstood in his life. These are things he said will make us blessed. He lived the Sermon on the Mount first.
In the Bedroom, why? Because it is a place of rest and reflection, we start and end our day. A place that symbolize earth and not heaven, but only a road to heaven.
To keep this new order of things and to cope with sickness, betrayal, poverty, hunger… we need faith. These makes us more like Jesus, who saved us by suffering all these things in himself.
What Jesus wants: He came to earth to give us this Blessedness. Now he wants us to be blessed/ Happy. This blessedness only God can give, as He wants us “to be happy with Him forever”.
The holy Eucharist is from where the strength for the beatitude comes. In Holy Communion his heart nourishes our heart. It is also in the various moments of our visit to the Blessed Sacrament that gives us additional strength and unites us spiritually too. Let us come to the blessed Lord and ask him to make us blessed in all our circumstances of life so as to be happy now and in life eternal.
The measure of joy is in giving to others.
Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.