September 10, 2008
Wednesday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 6: 20-26
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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for this time of prayer. Increase my love for you and for the people you have brought into my life. I need your help to move beyond my self-love and put others ahead of me. Open my ears to hear your message for me today. Then help me to live it.
Petition: Lord Jesus, increase my love for you and souls.
1. Blessed Are the Poor
Today we consider the beatitudes in Luke’s Gospel. The first thing we note is that they are presented a bit differently than in Matthew’s account. They are fewer in number, and they are followed by corresponding “woes” for those who do not seek to live them. First, Jesus presents poverty as a gift. This is certainly at odds with the materialism and consumerism of our culture, which measure a person’s value by what he has. People are pushed to accumulate more and more and to make material things the focus of their lives. The virtue of poverty helps us to detach from things so to cling to God, our true end. Poverty helps us to grow in our trust in God’s providence, trust that he will provide us with what we need. Rather than relying on material things for our security, our trust is in God alone.
2. Blessed Are the Hungry
If we fill ourselves only with material things, we starve our soul. In times of stress or anxiety, people will often turn to food. The notion of “comfort food” is a clue that we use food for more than simple nutrition. However, rather than seeking consolation in things, we should turn to God. He is our consolation.
3. Blessed Are the Persecuted
We naturally want people to like us, but if we make this our highest value, we soon become enslaved by the tyranny of the crowd and our own vanity. Generally we begin by making small concessions to the crowd, but the concessions grow ever more insistent. We whittle faith down to next to nothing – no demands, just piously reaffirming platitudes. However, our Catholic faith should oppose everything that is sinful in our culture. There will be times where we have to choose between pleasing God or pleasing the Joneses and the Smiths. Persecution for our faith is an indication that we are heading in the right direction. Jesus was persecuted, and he promised no less for his disciples. If we find no persecution in our lives, if our lives are easy and everyone loves us, then we should take another look and see if God indeed is our top priority.
Dialogue with Christ: Christ, help me to put you first in my life. I need your help to burst free of my enslaving self-love. I want to love you more and more and to serve you with joy. At times I measure out my generosity in bits and pieces and regret the demands of my faith. Help me to give it all and not to worry about the opinion of the crowd.
Resolution: I will speak about Christ in my conversations today.
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