Date: Sunday, February 17, 2019
Jesus is speaking to his disciples. A disciple is one who wishes to learn and to follow. Jesus says to them: “Blessed are you who poor… Blessed are you who are hungry … Blessed are you who are weeping … Blessed are you when people hate you, 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!” It is a wonder that Jesus has any followers! But his disciples will learn that Jesus calls them blessed, not because their weeping, hunger, poverty and rejection have value in themselves, but because God’s intervention is about to take place and it is especially the poor, women, children, outcasts, strangers and sinners who will experience God’s salvation. Jesus is promising the downtrodden and forgotten that they will participate in the kingdom of God.
Conversely, Jesus also warns his attentive listeners: “Woe to you who are rich… who are filled now… who laugh now… and when all speak well of you…” Jesus is challenging an attitude or mindset of privilege that we can do as we please with what we have. We are stewards. What we claim as “ours” or “mine” we hold in trust.
We are “blessed” in our poverty and “blessed” in our affluence when we have the mind of Christ. St. Paul explains it this way in his letter to the Corinthians: “For your sake he [Christ] became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) God, rich in mercy, sent his son Jesus who did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather Jesus emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men in order to walk side by side with us, poor among the poor.