In today’s Gospel reading we hear Luke’s version of the beatitudes, which are similar to the Gospel of Matthew’s beatitudes, but are different in some ways. The main difference is that Luke recounts how Jesus gave us the beatitudes, but also a series of exhortations.
These exhortations highlight the blessings of God that come from following the Beatitudes – which are a deepening of the Ten Commandments – and points out that God rewards good actions of true spiritual growth, while God punishes evil action that harms true spirituality.
Of course, God, like a good parent who has shown much mercy, only punishes out of love which tries to bring the sinner to repentance and back to God’s way of true love before it is too late. We read about this in the Gospel of Matthew 25:46 – “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
We now turn to today’s Gospel and compare the beatitudes to the exhortations:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.” When a person is poor, they look for work. When they find work, they are happy and work hard to keep their job. They also like to share the fruits of their labor. On a spiritual level we work for God by living our vocation in life. We all start out single for the Lord and learn to work for God by our daily prayer, worship every weekend (if not sick or enfeebled/no emergencies), the study of our faith (Faith Formation classes), serving and evangelizing.
Here’s the exhortation: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” It is remark-able how the rich fall away from the Ten Commandments of God. The “rich” are not necessarily rich in money, they could be rich in their entertainment oppor-tunities, or rich in their opinion that they can ignore God’s Ten Commandments. They seem to think that they can escape God’s just punishment, even though God gives them their every heart beat and breathe, and every good thing, especially the Church built on the blood of Christ. For it is only Christ who can wash away their sins and make them again “righteous”, that is to say, restore them to a right and just relationship with God through a living faith in Jesus Christ by the worthy reception of God’s grace, especially in the divine Seven Sacraments.
Here’s the next beatitude: “Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.” Nothing satisfies a soul like a person praying, serving, worshipping and receiving Jesus Christ worthily in the Holy Eucharist, the Bread from Heaven. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Jn. 6:51
Here’s the exhortation: “But woe to you who are filled
now, for you will be hungry.” It is no wonder the Church asks us to fast one hour be-fore receiving Holy Communion. Also, be-fore receiving Holy Communion we inter-cede for those in need, bringing God’s blessings to the “life of the world.”
The most difficult beatitude and exhortation is the last set:
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!” Those of us standing up for God’s Ten Commandments, and the right for a child to have a Mom and a Dad, are often ridiculed, or cancelled.
Jesus exhortation out of love is this: “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.” Lk. 6:26
God wants us to choose his beatitudes, because, like a good parent, he would rather affirm and bless us, in-stead of punish and correct us. For those who choose the beatitudes there will be persecution, for the worldly persecuted Jesus Christ in the same way. Yet, Jesus tells us, “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Lk. 6:27 And: “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” Jn. 16:33
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe