Sunday, February 13, 2022: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel – Luke 6:17, 20-26
Jesus came down with the Twelve and stood on a stretch of level ground with a great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.
And by raising his eyes toward his disciples he 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. 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.”
“And raising his eyes toward his disciples, he said …”
Jesus looks straight into the eyes of his disciples – of us – and says:
Blessed are you who are now poor; now hungry; now weeping; when you are hated, excluded, insulted, denounced.
Jesus assures us that we are blessed because our “reward will be great in heaven.” Almost always I read this as ‘Don’t worry. Even if you’re miserable here and now, you’ll be very happy when you die and go to heaven.’
But understanding heaven as a future event flies in the face of Jesus’ idea of heaven as the kin-dom of God. In his parables, his teachings, his confrontations with the religious and secular rich and powerful of his day, Jesus insists that the kin-dom of God is now. So rejoice!
Seeing life from this perspective requires seeing as Jesus sees. As we know, Jesus’ way of looking at life takes some getting used to; takes some willingness to open ourselves to risk; takes some courage to jump into the kin-dom of God that’s right in front of our faces.
We’re “in” the kin-dom of God when we heal the broken, preach the good news, create diverse communities, heal Earth, work (in all kinds of ways) to dismantle religious and secular systems that make and keep people poor, hungry, weeping, insulted, denounced.
Maybe when the “great crowd of his disciples and a large number of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal regions of Tyre and Sidon” saw Jesus looking straight into their eyes, puzzlement and confusion overwhelmed them. Maybe some turned away from these hard sayings and went on their way.
Maybe some let their puzzlement and confusion urge them to keep following Jesus around, keep listening and letting their hearts be softened.
Obviously (then and now) many believed that heaven is now only if we create it day by day.
When I get right down to it, it’s much less challenging to stay with the idea “when you die and go to heaven, you’ll be very happy.” Every day, I make the choice – turn away or jump into the fray, help create the kin-dom of God here and now. To be honest, every day I do both. Seeing as Jesus sees takes some getting used to.
If you agree that Jesus’ way of looking at life takes some “getting used to” … you might want to consider the most outrageous thing Jesus ever said or did.