GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY – 13TH SEPTEMBER 2017
GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY (based on Catholic Liturgical Readings)
DATE: 13TH SEPTEMBER 2017
WEDNESDAY OF THE TWENTY-THIRD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
(MEMORIAL OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, BISHOP AND DOCTOR)
FIRST READING: Colossians 3:1-11
PSALM: Psalm 145:2-3, 10-13
GOSPEL: Luke 6:20-26
Imagine Jesus Christ as a pastor in one of our churches. Imagine a large crowd cramming one Sunday morning to listen to him. Imagine Jesus holding a microphone and addressing the crowd in these words: “All you who are poor, I want you to know that you are blessed because the Kingdom of God is yours…And as for you who are rich, sorry, I have one word for you – WOE. Yes, woe to you for you have received your consolation.”
Now, imagine the displeasure that would mark the faces of the rich. I bet you, many of the rich guys would stop going to the church of Jesus Christ and perhaps go to the church of another pastor who promises untold wealth to those who come to his church.
The ‘sermon on the plain’ with particular reference to Luke 6:20-26 is a tough one and many preachers of the Word of God would prefer to avoid talking about it for fear they would step on the toes of the rich and lose followers. However, when we pick and choose Scripture in such an evasive manner, we do more harm than good to ourselves.
Jesus addressed the ‘sermon on the plain’ to his disciples. These were people who had been brought up in a socio-cultural milieu that propagated a certain perception that abundance of wealth was a sign of blessedness and those who lack material wealth were somehow deficient in divine favour. Thus, with their eyes set on amassing wealth, the rich considered the poor as an appendix to society.
The sermon of Jesus, as recounted in our Gospel text, is revolutionary in character. It calls for a paradigm shift in value systems. The value system of the secular world makes us think that a materially rich person is more important than a materially poor person. The wealthy are accorded VIP status wherever they go, whether in an aeroplane or accessing public toilets, and the poor, at best, can access what is nicely referred to as “economy class”.
Jesus proposes a new value system. In the eyes of the Lord, a VIP is a one who pursues love. Thus, the verse that follows immediately after Luke 6:20-26, is a call to love – to love even one’s enemies (Lk. 6:27ff).
Every good gift comes from God and gifts from God must be used for the good of others. When we allow our fortunate situation (e.g. material riches) to blind us from recognising and appreciating the real value of God’s kingdom, we build our lives on drifting sand.
A poor man said to a rich man who had disrespectfully thrown a coin at him: “Sir, you can have your money back, I don’t need it…It is you who need me”. Yes we need those we consider poor, for it is in reaching out to them that we reach for salvation.
PRAYER: Eternal Father, I thank you for every gift that you have bestowed on me. Help me not to be inward looking and self-centered but rather to make good use of your gifts by reaching out lovingly to those in need. For the sake of Christ, I pray. Amen
Andrews Obeng, svd
DIVINE WORD MISSIONARIES
BIBLICAL PASTORAL MINISTRY
“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. And may the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all people” (St. Arnold Janssen).