The Gospel reading for today features the beginning verses of St. Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. Though it is much shorter than St. Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, it contains much of the same material. Instead of eight Beatitudes, St. Luke has only four. Instead of waiting until the later chapters of the Gospel for the “woes,” St. Luke places them right after the beatitudes. In addition, St. Luke makes these statements much more direct and to the point.
In the reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul counsels the people not to change their circumstances too much. If they are unmarried, stay unmarried; if married, stay married. Actually, St. Paul is not really commenting on marriage at all. He is simply warning people that he believes Jesus’ return is immanent and that, rather than trying to change their current situation in life, they should busy themselves by preparing for Jesus’ return.
Both readings have a sense of urgency about them. Jesus makes his statements with a view to the reward that will come on “that day.” St. Paul is obviously concerned about what Jesus will find when he returns. That same sense of urgency must be part of our preparedness, for none of us knows the day nor the hour.
As we approach the altar today, let us remember that Jesus has given us this sacrament as a gift to insure that we will one day be with God forever.