Homilette for Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Memorial of St. Peter Claver, priest

(Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 6:20-26)

In the gospel today Jesus almost sounds like 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 deprivation. He is talking to the poor who scavenge for food in garbage dumps and to weeping parents who have had to bury multiple sons and daughters. 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 patiently bear hardships without becoming bitter and mean.

Jesus does not limit his address to the have-nots but delivers choice words to the haves as well. Their future is bleak, he says, 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 themeselves everything they have. They would be wise, he implies, to share their wealth and their joviality so that everyone may live grateful lives.