for Sunday, February 14, 2010
These are strong readings this week and we have to listen to them
attentively. At first hearing, it can sound like the Lord will condemn all
those who have money, those who have food, all who laugh and those about
whom we speak well. On the other side we hear blessings for all who are
poor, all who do not have food, those who mourn and those who are spoken
badly about (but only for the sake of the name of Jesus). This is from the
Gospel of Saint Luke.
The Prophet Jeremiah is not much better in the first reading today. His
preaching can sound even a bit softer than today's Gospel. For him,
anyone who trusts in human beings, anyone who trusts in flesh (in human
power, not divine) and who turns his heart away from God. These actions
described by Jeremiah are all internal actions: trusting humans and human
power and turning one's heart away from the Lord.
So do we have to believe that anyone who has more than sufficient money or
even just enough money will not enter the kingdom? Do we have to believe
that anyone who has sufficient food cannot enter the kingdom? Do we have
to believe that all those who laugh are not going to enter the Kingdom?
Probably not! What our Lord is getting at is the inner attitudes that all
of us have within us.
The temptation - and it is a temptation for all of us - is to get what we need
and forget about others. This seems to be why so very often the poor are
very generous and those who have enough are uneasy to give what they have
lest they end up without enough. This is an inner attitude that is against
the Gospel. There is a tendency to think about me having enough food
before thinking about those who don't. Quite often, those who don't have
enough food are more willing to share the little they have than those who
have enough but are worried that they won't.
Laughter? This passage inspired lots of writers and even philosophers to
think that laughing is not good. Instead it is an inner attitude that only
laughs and pays no attention to the mourning that is all around us.
Laughter is good for body and soul, but never at the expense of forgetting
entirely those who suffer and mourn. Just as some cities have built walls
to hide the poor neighborhoods, so laughter can be used to hide from
Christ is truly risen! Saint Paul tells us this so very strongly. If
Christ has been raised so will we be raised. If we hope only for this
life, we are to be pitied. It is when we begin to hope for eternal life
and we can accept giving to others and helping others. It is in hope that
we can fast so that others might have food. It is faith that we can cry
when we see the misery of our sisters and brothers and finally find the
compassion and mercy to help them.
May God lead us all into His kingdom and keep us on His path.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: