Homily — 6th Sunday OT C February 11, 2007

Homily — 6th Sunday OT C February 11, 2007

Possible location of Christ's Sermon on the Plain

Since the beginning of the Church Year, which began this past Advent, we have been reading each Sunday from the Gospel of Luke.

The Sunday Readings follow a Three Year Cycle. We are in Year C, which as I mentioned gives us the whole Gospel of St. Luke. Next Year we will be in Year A which is St. Matthew’s Gospel, and the Year after that is Year B: St. Mark’s Gospel.

St. John’s Gospel also gets kind of sprinkled in here and there, so that by the end of three years, we’ve read virtually all four books of the Gospels in their entirety in the Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies.

In today’s Gospel, St. Luke gives us his version of Jesus’ Sermon on the Beatitudes, that list of attitudes Jesus says are blessed, which means they give us real, lasting happiness.

St. Luke’s version is rather different than the much more well known version given in St. Matthew’s Gospel. For example, St. Matthew has eight Beatitudes, while St. Luke lists only four of those, leaving out Blessed are the Meek, the Peacemakers, the Merciful, and the Pure of Heart.

It appears that the two versions differ because they were perhaps two different sermons given by Jesus.

St. Matthew gives us the “Sermon on the Mount,” where Jesus is on top of the Mountain, sitting down, with the crowd listening below Him — in some ways, imitating the way God the Father spoke to His people on Mount Sinai in the Old Testament.

St. Luke, however, gives us the “Sermon on the Plain,” where Christ comes down from the Mountain and is standing on a stretch of level ground in the midst of the people who are listening to Him — this time imitating the way His Father used to go down into the Garden of Eden and walk and talk with Adam and Eve before the Fall.

And Jesus in today’s Gospel comes down from that Mountain, just as He comes down from Heaven, to tell us what attitudes we need to have, and what attitudes we need to avoid if we want to climb that Way which leads to Heaven, and if we want Paradise to begin to be restored here on earth through Christ’s grace.
To have true happiness, which is what is meant by Blessed, Christ says we must now and throughout our lives be poor, hungry, weeping, and hated:

  • Poor in our attachment to material goods and pleasures;
  • Hungry for God, for personal Holiness, and for Justice for the oppressed;
  • Weeping and sorrowing over our many sins of omission and commission;
  • and Hated, excluded, insulted, and called “evil” because we follow Christ and not the ways of the world.

If these Beatitudes are the Attitudes we’re striving to live by, Blessed are we, — we’re all right in Jesus’ Book.

But Woe (defined by Webster as “deep affliction and suffering) to us, Christ says, if we are presently rich, satisfied, laughing, or popular:

  • Woe if we are Rich, attached to things, craving bigger and better stuff rather than a deeper relationship with the invisible God;
  • Woe if we are Satisfied with our present lukewarm relationship to Jesus, if we aren’t moved to action by the injustice done to the “least of Christ’s brothers” around us;
  • Woe to us if we laugh at the Teachings of Christ and His Holy Church as if they were antiquated rules that don’t apply to our modern and enlightened age;
  • And finally, woe to us if we are liked by everyone, if we hide our Catholic faith and morality when we are out in the world, so as not to offend anyone by it.

If these are our Attitudes, cur-sed are we, — we’re not alright in Jesus’ Book, are names aren’t even written in His Book of Life, and our future has only grief, and want, misery and emptiness in store for us.

Our Gospel today really is good preparation for the upcoming Season of Lent which starts one week from Valentine’s Day this year.

Lent is the best time to get dirt poor through almsgiving to the needy, to get starving hungry through fasting from our favorite treats, to get weeping as we confess our sins to Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance (maybe at our parish’s All Day Confessions on Saturday, March 3rd?), and to then get more hated on account of Christ through doing all the above.

Blessed will we all be, come Easter, if we take advantage of this upcoming Lenten Season to conform our attitudes to the Beatitudes.

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