Jer 17:5-8; 1Cor 15:12,16-20; Luke 6:17,20-26
I remember when I was still a child; we had a farm near to the forest. My father’s favorite past time was to catch monkeys. What he did was he made a little cage and then at the middle of the cage he put a coconut fruit with small hole and put some tasty food inside the coconut fruit. The hole was just large enough for the monkey to put its hand through but too small for the monkey to withdraw its hand once it clutched the tasty food inside.
So the monkey has two choices. Either to let go of the food and go free or to hold on to the food and remain trapped. A monkey usually hangs on to the food.
Jesus, after choosing His apostles, He came down the mountain and proclaims the four beatitudes and four woes. Jesus turns worldly values up side down. If we compare the worldly preaching and the preaching of Jesus, the world preaches efficiency, it glorifies success and worships power. The society announces that happiness comes from wealth, affluence and freedom from any form of pain while Jesus tells the poor and the hungry, the wept and the hated that the Kingdom of God is for them. They are God’s preferred people. What is the reason? Why are they near to the heart of God?
Poor is called in the Scripture as anawim or the poor of Yahweh and it has four stages of understanding.
First, the poor are those people who are without material wealth.
Second, because they are materially poor, these people are usually without power and clout. The poor are helpless and without influence.
Third, because they are powerless, these people are often oppressed and exploited. The poor are exploited people. Many people take advantage at them.
Fourth, because they are helpless and unprotected, these people turn to God. God is the only person that they can turn to. They are those people who put their total trust in God.
These are the people Jesus called ‘blessed.’ They realized that they could not depend on the things of the world for happiness. They do not clutch at anything whether wealth or power or security. Unlike the rich who are trapped because they hang on to their material riches, influence and comfort. The poor are capable of letting the tasty food go and of seeking their happiness in God alone. Even if others may have a lot of money, but this is nothing in the Kingdom of God. God chooses the weak to compound the strong. God chooses the weak to bring His mission to completion.
One priest made an observation in his homily that in United States and Japan, highly industrialized nations, have the highest number of suicides. It is reported that many of the hospital beds in the United States are filled with psychiatric patients. According to a 1994 Happiness Index posted by a Hong Kong-based survey group among Asian nations, the Japanese people are the saddest people in Asia. Ironically, the Filipinos emerged as one of the happiest people in the survey.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blest are you poor and blest are you who hunger.” When we talk about poverty, about being poor, it does not mean of material poverty. He certainly does not mean also that wealth and money are intrinsically evil and that we should work for material advancement in this world. To tell you frankly, there is a worse form of poverty than material poverty, it is loneliness, emptiness and being unloved.
What Jesus warns us against is the inordinate attachment to material things which make people forget God. He reminds us also that the standards of this world do not necessarily mean the standards also of God. Rather, Jesus is challenging us to build a better world where there is justice, no killings and exploitation, no cheating and suppression. If not, injustice, exploitation and other evil acts are lessened. As St. John Chrysostom had said: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” “Man fully alive” means “holistic” development encompassing the social, political, economic, cultural and spiritual dimension of a person’s life.
At the end let us ask ourselves these questions: Do you really believe that poverty, problems and difficulties are still blessings? If your house were burn today, would you still thank God? If your child is side swept by a jeepney driver would you still pray for the driver?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C
OPTION 01, 02, 03, 04,