Homilette for Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(Luke 6:20-26)

In the gospel today Jesus almost sounds like a Fidel Castro delivering a harangue on economic justice. Some might want to press the mute button for the duration of his sermon. But he is the Lord and definitely has something to say to us that will transcend the speech of political messiahs.

On one hand Jesus addresses those experiencing serious economic deprivation. He is talking to the poor who barely survive and to the mourning who continually experience loss. But he does not mean all the poor, all the hungry, all the weeping, and all the insulted. No, he specifically addresses his disciples -- both then and now -- who follow him on a road that entails hardships. As Jesus’ disciples, there no way to insulate ourselves from deprivation. Every follower must pay, what one theologian, named "the cost of discipleship."

Of course, Jesus does not limit his address to the have-nots but pronounces some choice words to the haves as well. Their future is bleak, he tells them, if they do not use what they have for the good of all. Jesus is not condemning the rich, the sated, the joyful, and the well-spoken of per se but only when they reserve for their exclusive use everything they have. His lesson is similar to that of the legend of King Midas. The god Dionysius gave Midas the choice of anything he wanted. The king foolishly chose to have everything he touched turn into gold. He came to lament his choice, however, when he found that he could not enjoy anything. All the food he tasted, the comforts he felt, even the friends at his side turned into the cold, durable metal.