The Greatest Bargain – Rodney Hart, SJ

Luke 6:17, 20-26, Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

beatitudes

Today’s readings present the Beatitudes as they are found in the Gospel of Luke. Luke, a Gentile convert, addressed his version of the Beatitudes primarily to Gentile converts to Christianity. Luke’s audience was poor. Many were slaves or low-born. Their choice of Christianity only made their situation worse. They were persecuted, suffering. In presenting the Lord’s words to them, Luke places Jesus on level ground. On the same level as them. He was poor, suffering, and persecuted.

The Beatitudes have a lot to say to us. First of all, those who are poor now are those who recognize their dependence on God, not on material possessions. There are people who are very wealthy and yet poor in spirit because it is only their wealth that matters to them. When the only treasure that matters in life is the Lord, we can be poor regrading our possessions, but we are rich in what matters. Luke then declares, “Blesses are you who are hungry now.” Here, Luke is referring to being hungry for the Lord and his kingdom. Many of us have been hungry this way and are still hungry for the Lord. We make retreats, have spiritual experiences and still fill hungry for more. Jesus is a meal that never fills us. He always leaves us searching for ways to find newer and fuller experiences of his presence, ways to be nourished with his spirit. “Blessed are you who are weeping,” has nothing to do with funerals. It has to do with sorrow that we feel for those people who are living in darkness, who reject the Lord, who are in a hole and refuse to come out of it. We can look at ourselves, our lives and know that we have been there. We reach out to them and say, “you can be better.” And we mourn for those who are hurting so much. We weep for those who die alone because no one cares enough for them. We weep for all who suffer various addictions. We pray for all who have been deceived by the world into worshipping the god of materialism. We pray for all who have been deluded by society into embracing immortality. We for all those who have been brought into these lies. They are missing so much. They are throwing everything away for so little. And so we mourn.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and exclude you and insult you and call you names on account of me.” Putting Christ into our lives can lead others to the Lord. But there are people who transfer their own guilt over their lives to those who are doing their best ti be Christian. They don’t talk to you. They don’t invite you to join them in anything happening in school, work or neighborhood. You walk down a hall during a meeting and they look at you and someone says something  and they start laughing. And you hate that. But we would rather have people laugh at us for our commitment to Christ than to abandon Jesus. We really have only one choice in life : to be for God or against God. We cannot have both. Either we live for the kingdom of God and die to our superficial wants or we live for ourselves and lose the kingdom.

Everything in life has a cost. There is a cost to pay for following Christ. Sometimes it feels like a high cost. It means pushing our selfish desires to the side, filling our hunger for the Lord, grieving over those who are rejecting him while at the same time, enduring their scorn. Everything has a cost, but the reward we are seeking is worth it all. Jesus Christ is worth whatever sacrifices we are called to make, whatever mockery we are called to endure. Considering what Jesus gives us, happiness and meaning to our lives here, union with him in complete joy for all eternity – the cost is little. Possessing Christ is the greatest bargain we will ever be offered. Let us pray today for the courage to be Christian in the privacy of our homes and in the public eye.

*Image from the Internet

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