Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

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

“There is a difference between the rich and the poor,” the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald told his friend Ernest Hemmingway. “Yes,” replied the other with characteristic terseness, “money.” As attractive as Hemmingway’s truism sounds, Fitzgerald gives a more powerful premise. The poor are generally less educated and more likely victims of various social pathologies. Also, although not likely considered by Fitzgerald, the poor have God on their side as Jesus makes clear in the gospel today.

Preachers have long noted that the beatitudes in Luke have none of the spiritualizing tendencies that are seen in Matthew. In Luke it is “the poor” who are blest, not “the poor in spirit.” Likewise, those who are simply “hungry” in Luke are being fulfilled, not those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” The wanting can now rejoice because Jesus has come to champion their cause. In contrast, those who have enough and more better beware because Jesus will not allow them much slack.

Are we to be condemned then if we own a house and a car? And if we sleep in the night shelter, are we assured of Paradise at death? Such conjectures are inevitably made and should be determinedly resisted. Jesus makes a priority of the poor but sends his Spirit on all of us to take up his causes. The poor also have to respond to his grace with care for others or face an undesirable judgment.