Today we hear the Beatitudes of St. Luke. They are not only different in the way they are expressed, but they are also directed to a different audience. In St. Matthew’s Gospel we are told that the Beatitudes, indeed the entire so-called “Sermon on the Mount,” is directed to the disciples of Jesus. Though the lectionary does not include the verses immediately before the “Sermon on the Plain,” St. Luke takes great pains to tell us that “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 came to hear him.”
Luke is not writing a general catechetical discourse but is specifically addressing “you poor” and “you hungry.” As we read Luke’s Gospel, we also notice a frustrating, no-win circle of human life. The hungry are promised to be “filled” but this is followed by a “woe” to you who are full.”
This frustration only reinforces the seriousness that, in the words of St. Paul, “the world in its present form is passing away.” We are being told, in fact, rather bluntly, that God accomplishes more with our poverty than with our wealth, more with our faith that with our activity. Poverty and faith have nothing to lose and an almost infinite variety of choices before them. Wealth and specialization restrict a person’s options and weigh that person down with anxieties.
Paul advises the Corinthians and us to arrive at a careful decision regarding our lives in this passing world. We need to keep in mind that, by virtue of our baptism, we are already living our heavenly existence.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator